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Introduction to Ugandan Swahili for Survival

Just a bit of intro ... nothing academic and nothing to worry about! What you need to know about Swahili in Uganda;

Swahili should be - and there is reason why I have had that underlined, the second official language of Uganda. By law prescribed in the constitution of the land, it is - the second official language after English.

I must say a felling of 'foreign' still looms around Swahili - and I will shortly explain why ...

Swahili is widely spoken in Kenya and Tanzania which form part of the East African Community with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Its introduction to Uganda is probably a story that is as old as the country itself. There have been efforts to even have it officially taught in schools but ...

Not many Ugandans are able to speak Swahili, let alone comprehend it. There is perhaps a feeling of resentment which could probably be down to the sort of history it carries with it.

Past brutal regimes that were based on military dictatorship through the '70s and '80s confined the use of the language to the army and police whose relations with the general public was at its lowest at the time. In many ways, the generation that lived through those years resented Swahili and did not passed it on to the next generation.

Unfortunately, the trend has gone on ... I guess because it has continued to be the 'military language' - if you like and foreign! (I could be totally wrong here) ... but I can't find any other reason.

Swahili however is spoken in some parts of the country especially the border areas with Kenya and Tanzania and some parts of the north and sections of Bunyoro region. It has remained widely used by the army and police.

Certainly the Kenyans and Tanzanians speak better Swahili and they find the Ugandan dialect rather novice ...They have got their little thing about who speaks the best swahili - I guess that is a little above our weight.

Depending on where you are going to be and do in Uganda, It's always nice to learn another language and Swahili would certainly come in handy. If you are keen, you can quite easily build on the survival phrases here.

Here are a few nuts and bolts about the language;

Swahili has 5 vowels; 'a,e,i,o,u' whose sounds are similar to Spanish, Japanese and German. If you are from that part of the world, that makes life easier.

The basic principle is; the combination of the consonants and vowels form the sound syllables. You will also have vowels standing on their own. It's important that each vowel sound is pronounced even if the vowels follow each other.

Take for example, the word 'daawa' - which means 'lawsuit' is pronounced as 'dah-ah-wah'. This is very different from 'dawa' (medicine/drug) which is pronounced as 'dah-wah'.

Careful! lest you get lost in pronunciation rather than translation ...

Well, enough of that grammar stuff.

Click this link to the Ugandan Swahili Survival phrases. .

You will love it. Enjoy!

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