Here, There and Everywhere

Speaking Kinyarwanda

Kinyarwanda is spoken in a number of East African countries, most importantly for me, primarily in Rwanda. I’ve been trying to learn it for 5 years now and still only remember a few words here and there.

When I’ve been in Rwanda to visit the ROP Center for Street Children and other reporting and projects, I’ve given it my all, but still feel like a child learning to read for the first time. I even had a teacher for awhile, but she’s probably embarrassed to claim such, since her student is so bad at it.

Here are some examples of Kinyarwanda to English (or vice-a-versa). It’s not that difficult to read, but to speak is another story.

umwana – child
abana – children
umwigisha – teacher
abigisha – teachers
umwigishwa – pupil
abigishwa – pupils
afite – she (he) has
bafite – they have

That doesn’t look to difficult, does it? Put them into a sentence though and I get lost.

Unwana wanjye – my child
Abana wanjye – my children
Be abigisha – her (his teachers)
Umwigisha wabo aravuga – ???
Mbese umwigisha wanyu arahinga? – ???

For now, I’ll have to smile and say “Murakoze” (thank you) or “Imana aguhe umugisha” (God be with you). When in doubt, it usually works to nod my head “Yes” as if I understand and smile.

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Comments on: "Speaking Kinyarwanda" (2)

  1. A few little corrections….

    Abana banjye – my children (use ba- rather than wa- to agree with abana)
    Abarimu be – her/his teachers (Umwigisha is a bit old – used for Rabbi in the Bible etc and also the possessive should come after the noun)
    Imana iguhe umugisha – God bless you (use i-gu-he to agree with Imana – i=he, gu=you, he=will give, umugisha=blessing)

    Maybe http://kinyarwanda.net/ will help – am trying to write a decent grammar reference there as well as the dictionary

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