Kenya, Rants

Last week I was reading about the evolution of Latin languages in Western Europe and it made me think about Swahili here in East Africa. Swahili is the official language of Kenya and Tanzania (and apparently Uganda, but I’ve been there and I didn’t hear much). The thing is, while most Kenyans do speak Swahili, everyone knows it’s not the sanifu (“pure”) brand you’ll find spoken in Tanzania. After independence, Tanzania’s first president was all excited about forging a strong national identity, and part of that was pushing for the adoption of Swahili as the national language. I read in Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari that one independence-era government official’s words were: “English is the language of the imperialists.” Sure enough, traveling in Tanzania is hard if you don’t speak Swahili because English is by no means pervasive!
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So my new phone has a camera, but you know how camera phone are. It’s no replacement for my digital camera that recently broke, but I can take pictures of bugs and stuff around the house. Now let’s play “Hii ni nini” (what is this)!

Oooh!I found these in the market the other day. They’re everywhere and they’re cheap which means they’re in season right now I guess. I don’t remember seeing these in the market at this time last year, so maybe this is something special for Kenya, or at least Tala. I know the picture isn’t very good, but can you guess what they are? They’re not cherries, they’re… plums! Mini plums! I paid thirty Kenyan shillings (about fifty cents) for a big bag of them.
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Food, Kenya, Miscellaneous

I’ve been thinking about this for a while: my Spanish is gradually being replaced by Swahili. That’s pretty sad when you consider that I studied Spanish for five years in school, not to mention living in San Diego and traveling all over Mexico every year for most of my childhood. Not that I need or use Spanish here in Kenya, but I like to test myself every once in awhile. On a semi-related note, I did eat some beef tacos last week at a funny restaurant in Nairobi called “Taco Club.” My buddy ordered chicken fajitas. The salsa was fresca and the guacamole was delicious, but the rice was more like turmeric rice (Indian…?).

I think I know more Swahili than Spanish now. Maybe I’ll go walk around Mexico for a few weeks when I get back from Kenya in 2009 to refresh my skills. Any takers?

Kwaheri! Or, uh… Adios!