Swahili: the “moto moto” language of East Africa

An American production company shot a movie scene where a messenger was expected to rush in, collapse and pant out an important message in Swahili. The company was even able to find a native who could speak Swahili well for the part. Everything worked out well until the movie was shown in an African town where Swahili was the local language. Locals burst out into laughter when instead of quoting his lines the messenger panted out “I am not being paid enough for this part,” in Swahili. Swahili has been incorporated in a number of movies, music videos and comic series. The phrase hakuna matata, which means no worries, is widely associated with the Lion King Series, which also included songs which had Swahili in them. The animation, Madagascar 2, has characters with Swahili names such as Moto Moto which literally translates to “hot hot”. Michael Jackson’s song, Liberian Girl, starts with the Swahili words for “I love you too, I want you too, my love.”

Swahili is widely spoken within East Africa, being the official language in some countries such as Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. It is also spoken in Comoros, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi by some parts of the population. Most individuals speak it in addition to their local languages. It’s wide prominence has led to major broadcasting news agencies such as BBC, DeutscheWelle and Voice of America featuring the language in some of their programs.

To learn Swahili, get free resources from various websites that offer basic courses. Downloadable texts are also available from various bookstores. Audio texts will help you in the pronunciation of words. Use free translation services to know what certain words mean. There are blogs and newspapers written in Swahili which are available online. Read them on a regular basis to improve your vocabulary. Dedicate a few hours every week to learning the language. Practice with a native speaker and your pronunciation will improve over time. If you cannot find one where you live, take advantage of online forums to meet a native speaker and talk to them on a regular basis.

One Comment on “Swahili: the “moto moto” language of East Africa”

  1. We appreciate so much your initiatives of installing dictionaries in various languages from Africa and every continent,you are a blessing to our hearts.
    Be blessed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.