by Vika
January 6, 2023

Jambo! (Swahili for “hello!”)

Quick quiz: Do you know how to say “have a good day” in Swahili? What is Swahili for “good morning”? What is “how are you” in Swahili?

Speak to people in East Africa in their native language, and they will surely give you a Swahili thank you (asante)! We have already taught you how to say “hello” in Swahili, now let’s keep going.

We can start you off with the basics: some Swahili words and phrases useful for travelers visiting East Africa.

Swahili greetings

People are big on greetings in East Africa. This is the most valuable thing to learn before your trip.

It only takes a small effort to create a positive first impression in any conversation, so let’s learn how to say “Hi! How are you?” in Swahili!

Hello: jambo / hujambo / ​salama
How are you?: habari gani?
Fine (response): nzuri
Goodbye: kwa herib (to one person) / kwa herini (to more than one person)
See you later: tutaonana
Nice to meet you: nafurahi kukuona
Goodnight: lala salama

General Swahili

Here are some very common Swahili words that will certainly come in handy.

Please: tafadhali
OK: sawa
Yes: ndiyo
No: hapana
Thank you: asante
Thank you very much: asante sana

Swahili at the market

What should you say in an East African market? These phrases might be useful!

How much is this?: Hii ni bei gani?
Can you reduce the price?: Unaweza kupunguza bei?
The price is too high: Bei iko juu

Swahili on safari

Know what you are looking at on safari in the local language! Here are some common animal names in Swahili to get you started.

Elephant: tembo
Leopard: chui
Hyena: fisi
Antelope: swala
Hippo: kiboko
Zebra: punda milia
Cheetah: duma
Giraffe: twiga

Swahili is the most widely-spoken language in Eastern Africa. Whether you’re planning to take a once-in-a-lifetime safari adventure soon, or just have an interest in the region, it is always a good idea to start learning!

Swahili is an official language of Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Wherever you go, knowing the language will come in handy.

Being able to converse with people in their own language, even a little bit, can go a long way towards bridging the cultural gap and breaking down communication barriers.

Like learning any language, practice makes perfect. Work at memorizing these Swahili basics and you’ll be sure to have a good foundation for your travel in East Africa.

Start your East-African journey today by learning some Swahili!

Now, tell us, how do you say “hello” in Swahili? ?

Are you interested in an African safari?

Contact one of our safari experts and we will tailor-make a safari for you!