A Basic Course in Swahili

Listen Siblings, I come in peace,

“Robbed from our languages!”The African Affirmation

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A Basic Course in Swahili
Collected by Onitaset Kumat

Pan-Africanists and I discussed the choice of language for a united Africa.  I was reminded that Swahili has already been chosen.  We further debated the script to use and suggested was the Bamum script.  I agree with this arrangement.

Later, a Pan-Africanist promoted his late wife’s writing on Swahili.  In the process of requesting permission to use the writing, another Pan-Africanist pointed me to the FSI Language Courses.

Apparently, it’s a tool of the State Department.  Notwithstanding, perhaps you, my African Blood Siblings, will learn Swahili here (and Yoruba, Igbo and Shona, et al. if you like.)


Just sharing.  ;-)

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8 thoughts on “A Basic Course in Swahili

  1. When you talk about a united Africa, do you mean African Americans living within the US, all black people in the US, black people generally, or just black people in Africa?
    Becos one African language for the whole of Africa is never going to work, I think. In Nigeria alone there are over 200 languages/dialects so I don’t know how this will work?
    And I have another question. How come – and im generalising – African Americans seem to put great emphasis on swahili when not many people of African descent who live in the US come from parts of Africa where Swahili is spoken? I am assuming you are African American, sorry if im wrong
    And what is pan africanism? Because Africa cannot be homogenous, I was Yoruba before the White man came to where we lived and TOLD us we were Nigerian.
    To me it seems like the whole Liberia thing, where indigenous Africans became second class citizens to African Americans who became the new colonial masters….
    However I am new to your blog, so I don’t mean to offend!
    One love x

    1. A united Africa foremost unites the whole continent. It would be nice to include other Africans, but such is a bridge to cross when we get there. Frankly, Sister, the continent’s unity will help every African in the world. Simply because, that’s what the foreign policy of a nation does.

      When you state doubt as to whether one language can work. It’s another bridge to cross. But look to the language we use: English. There are 50 million people in England today; but between 500 million and 1.8 billion speakers of English, including you and me. When that little island, 1/7th the size of Nigeria alone, sought to spread its language, it had much less than 50 million people and it did not hesitate debating whether it was doable to spread. Marcus Garvey said “You can accomplish what you will,” so let us look forward.

      On the Swahili question, I asked the same thing only a few days ago. This is why I transcribed excerpts on cultural continuity for you, https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/excerpts-pertaining-to-cultural-continuity-on-the-continent/. To summarize how my debate went, I raised the question on how do I honor my Yoruba and Akan ancestors (amongst others) by using Swahili as my language. However, I quickly acknowledged that Swahili is a Bantu language and another debater acknowledged that many of our customs in West Africa claim that we migrated from the East. The weblink that I have above, shows some stories. Essentially, however, it’s a myth that there’s different segments and peoples in Africa. Truly, as Swahili was “Bantu,” Swahili is West African in origin. Still, the cultures of West Africans are clearly Nilotic. More so, the Nilotic people migrated from the dried up Sahara in Northern and Western Africa. Meaning that Africans are a hodgepodge of Africans. The Swahili, unlike the Yoruba, are people who fled when the Musta’rabs showed in Western Africa. Just as before the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, our mutual ancestors worked on art by the Niger river, then we were conquered, and your part of the family stayed whereas my part of the family lived in America. Swahili, I should add, is only so that I can speak with you, Sister, and I can speak with our Brothers in Brazil, or Sisters in France, or Brothers in Germany, or Sisters in Cuba, or Brothers in Angola, or Sisters . . ..

      You mention that you were Yoruba before the White man came to where you lived; but that’s why I transcribed that piece. I was Yoruba too. But then I was told that I am American. But even going further back, before we were Yoruba, the Oriental came into Africa and slaughtered the Egyptians–then we were Yoruba. Africans are a hodgepodge; a forever hunted people until we strongly unite. For instance, how many African states were re-conquered, attacked, or manipulated by Europe in the last thirty years because of a European state’s might? A united Africa is a united might; a stand against the frequent assassinations, corruptions, manipulations and abominations perpetrated against we disorganized Africans.

      As to Liberia, it’s a matter of which philosophy we adopt. Above I write on “Our Philosophy: Originalism,” (https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/originalism/) please check it out and the related links. But it explains how if we use the Occidental’s (European’s) philosophy, very naturally we will be oppressive to ourselves: See Nigeria’s government, for instance. However, if we embrace our Original philosophy, we will not be. Your apprehensions are well warranted, but misplaced. This blog is unique for pushing forth our own original thoughts.

      As to my origins, you apologized for the possibility of mistaking me as an American African. There’s no need to apologize. I was born in America. But please do not call me an African-American. I am not an American. I look like you–just a lot more masculine. :p

      Finally, you say that you do not mean to offend. I know that. You are a loving Sister, and to ask and challenge are among the greatest compliments. Please browse as many of my articles as you can and ask all the questions that you can. I am honored to speak with all of my African Blood Siblings. Let us talk further at your convinience.


      1. Thank you for your reply! Are you a university professor because you seem to know alot on this subject!
        I see where you are coming from on this Swahili thing. I think they have something like that in Ghana. I can’t remember what the language is called but my aunts husband (he’s Ghanaian) said it doesn’t matter if you are twi or fante or Ga, there is a language that all the black people in Ghana can speak to eachother without having to speak in English. It is a nice idea! But I don’t see how everyone in Africa will learn and implement it? Do you include les maghrebins (I don’t know the word in English, sorry!) who live in te north like egypt and Tunisia and morocco etc?
        And what about the west indies? Because my mum is from a creole island there and I love it because there is such a mish mash of skin tones and origins, but everyone speaks the same creole! ( though sadly the old patois is dying put because our grandparents refused to teach us lol)
        I did not know all that history about the Yoruba peoples etc! Really interesting! But if all the languages of Africa were to die out it would be a shame. Because I cannot speak Yoruba, my dad never speaks it to us or taught it to us because I think he thinks it is a bush language that will not help us succeed in a White mans world. But it is so interesting! I learnt a few words an it is amazing how one word can mean several different things depending on the pronunciation. This has got me into trouble before lol, since oko means farm, husband, and penis. I meant farm but I said the last one by mistake lol. However I am digressing
        What I mean to say is, I rate what you are doing. However I feel that there are more pressing concerns for Africa and black people in general, than having a common african language
        Like real democracy!! And womens rights. It is disgusting the way African men have been treating some of their women thus far and this has to stop. The list could go on and on, sadly
        Finally, which parts of africa have you been to? Me, I have only lived in naija and been to Ghana, and so I do not/cannot claim to speak for west Africa or even Africa as a whole. But I get the feeling that most Africans feel that pan-africanism is an American idea, and would not welcome this ‘interference’ from people who have not been here but claim to know what is best. These are just some thoughts, not necessarily mine! Sorry if this comes across as rude and critical, I do not intend it to be taken as such
        I just feel frustrated I guess, at these men who are ruining Africa!
        I can’t remember who said it but ‘a race can rise no higher than it’s women!’ I am not a crazy man hating feminist haha, I just am concerned that women in Africa do not have adequate rights which is sadly ONE of the reasons why I will not be returning to nigeria (the other reasons are corruption and crime)
        Sometimes I can just cry for Africa

      2. Sorry I forgot to mention something in my last post which was a bit rambling but I guess I just write how I think, sorry if this makes no sense!
        I was meaning to say, as I study history, we are doing race relations in America 1860-1980 and for many reasons it is heartbreaking. Plus I am one of only 2 black girls (Yorubas woop woop!) In the entire class and it is amazing how White people just look at us for our reaction on everything. I guess they are just curious but it is so embarrassing! But this course really opened my eyes to how we were treated by Americans not too long ago, cos here in the UK, we usually only learn English history or the world wars – they constantly praise themselves for ousting hitler but forget the more morbid, shameful parts of British history. Hmmm.
        Also, I now understand why race is such a huge thing in america, compared to the UK. I NEVER realised how openly racist american society is. It’s sad.

        Ps. Have you noticed how iPhones automatically capitalise the word White not black!

      3. On a final, final note (I promise) I completely did not know you were a man. For some reason I thought you were a woman! So again I am sorry if you thought I was being disrespectful to you sir.
        One love,

      4. Sister Ngozi,

        I thank you for your replies. It warms my heart to gain the attention of a Sister in blood and tears.

        I do not teach at any formal Universities, if that is what you are asking. However, the proverb “each one, teach one” rings with me.

        If you can find out the language of Ghana, share it with us. Though it reminds me of the old videos where Africans laboring harshly, would sing songs in their tongues and Europeans would fancy the laborers happy, when the songs were actually chastising the Europeans and their systems. Interestingly, here in America, Africans did the same, but we used the English language. A lot of “Negro Spirituals” for instance, “Swing Low,” had undertones of insubordination, revolution and escape.

        As to seeing everyone learning a language, you are counting your chickens before they are hatched (see this link: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/two-of-aesops-fables-and-a-lesson/). You only know that a united Africa should have a language, then you learn, teach and spread the language. If enough of us do, our job is done. As to West Indies, or the Europeans in North Africa, again, you are counting chickens before they are hatched. The truth is that I alone will not decide the fate of the race; and we are on a journey, walking on a road, but you are speaking of bridges and how we should cross them. Here I remind you of the old adage, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

        On the history of the Yoruba people. Investigate it. Always will I be happy to hear what you have learned of our people.

        As to the dying languages of Africa, again, you are getting ahead of yourself. But remember, no organization cares more for the preservation of our ways than a united Africa. As you mentioned, in your own family, with Africa disunited, you are discouraged from learning your father’s tongue. This allegory that I wrote covers the matter (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/the-allegory-of-the-school-presentation/)

        As to the more pressing concerns, I should explain myself. I have more than eighty posts here, but only this one deals with Swahili, mostly because it’s a complete, though basic, course on the language. As to the other concerns, “democracy” and “women’s rights,” I do not dismiss them. In fact, after you follow this website, you will learn that of all the sites on all the topics, none will better speak to the latter concern than this one. For instance, I have already given a glimpse of pre-colonial Africa’s take on women (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/of-ibn-battuta-the-14th-century-berber-traveler-in-africa/) and I have also quoted our ancestral philosophy of women here (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/diops-two-cradle-theory/). Finally, when I wrote the masterful “Fable: The God-fearing Hunter,” I did not assign a gender to our God, as is our tradition (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/fable-the-god-fearing-hunter/.) Women’s rights, like your concern of political organization, expresses itself most fruitfully in an ethical expression. This site puts forward the most advanced ethical theories available–this, Sister, is the truest, most pressing issue for everyone, bar none. Besides, in terms of ‘practical’ solutions, it’s a shame that you could not see my television show today. However, this letter was the transcript (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/letter-from-cuffel-of-cuffels-sand/)

        On which part of Africa I have been. I have been all over. As have you. And I have been there for over 200,000 years. As have you. Do not let this lifetime replace in your mind the past and future.

        On the women’s issue, I am quite familiar. But understand, from the work of Diop’s that I sent earlier, that the disrespect afforded women relates with Occidentalism (the ways of Europeans.) Here’s an interesting history lesson for you: “Allat” was the Goddess of Mecca, before Muhammad masculinized her into “Allah” that his followers would not worship a woman. Before then, however, Africans had a woman as their city’s deity. Besides that, for thousands of years, MA’AT, a woman, decided whether our ancestors would join the stars in death. More, there were a number of women “heads of state” in antiquity. Such that the African, following his original culture and philosophy (Originalism), can not even dream of injuring his complementary sex. Indeed, I can even quote the teachings of the Yoruba to the effect of dismissing the separate concerns of women as intrinsic to the African way. If women’s liberation is your concern, I invite you to support me, for in this concern we are equal.

        Understand, Sister, that I understand with what you disagree. However, I want you to further understand that I have given it a word: “Occidentalism” (see again: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/originalism/) In this, when I promote “Originalism,” you should know that you are in my heart and what you and I see wrong with Africa can be done away with when we promote “Originalism” to our people.

        Oh and do not worry over apologizing to me. I am rarely offended from the world’s most beautiful people.

        As to saying that the “Americans” are racist when you speak of the post-slavery conditions of Africans, I want you to abolish the thought. The Whites in America are the same Whites in the UK: Europeans or Occidentals. The difference, of course, was that the Whites in America lived beside us in fear, jealousy and hate, thus explaining much of their actions (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/africans-should-love-everyone/). Do not think that race relations are any better in Europe. They are not. And I have been to England in this life time. :) Besides, you know that the English took my ancestors from Africa, and you know that the English enslaved your ancestors in Nigeria–to the point where your own father won’t pass on his language–why do you write as though the Europeans in the United States are worse than the Europeans in England?

        Oh and I never had a mac product, and I do not have a cellphone. Either way, if you keep at it, you can teach yourself to automatically capitalize words yourself. Still, “Black” and “White” are colors, that I do not agree with as designations of African or Original people (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/amazing-fact-91-an-excerpt-from-100-amazing-facts-about-the-negro-by-j-a-rogers/)

        I do not think that you are being disrespectful. More, you do not need to apologize for taking me as a woman. I recommend another reading, though it’s not as related (see https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/fable-knobeco-and-love/)

        Oh and please do not make that last note be a final note. I would love to hear from you and speak with your friends. If I could, I would subscribe everyone of my African Blood Siblings to this website. Still, if you keep to your promise, I want to write that I thank you for the discussion.

        Hotep! Please read what I linked and more.

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