Word for the Travel Wise (01/28/06)

Africa offers a lot more than a day jeeping around an outdoor zoo. Safari’s are exciting, but it’s certainly not the end of the road for the continent and its diverse countries. One click into a Magical Kenya tourism site and BOOM, I discovered the Dinai Skydive Boogie to be held in October 2006 and the MEAK Charity Kitesurf Cup happening Jan. 25, 2006 to Feb. 5, 2006. The event is being hosted in Mombasa and is used to bring medical aid and assistance to Kenyans needing eye surgery, heart operations, and supplying hospitals with equipment. Now that’s a reason to grab a board and ride the trade winds.

Today’s word is a Swahili (Kiswahili) word used in Kenya:

Unasemaje – How do you say______?

Even though today’s word has no direct connection to the events above, it is one of the best words/phrases to know when traveling anywhere. The use of this word and pointing can help one learn a lot in a little amount of time. Want to know how to say fish, road or telephone? Start with unasemaje and point at the object. Now that I’ve told you twice how to use the word and hopefully didn’t insult anyone’s intelligence let’s move onto some useful links.

Masai-Mara has a section devoted to useful Swahili and Kenya Travels has a similar list, but to catch the missing words between the two I suggest looking at them both. The Kamusi Project is the internet’s only living Swahili dictionary which will cease to operate in three days if funding doesn’t come through. Sad seeing it seems like one of the best sources to learning the lang. To learn basic background facts about Swahili check out Wikipedia. Did you know the name Swahili comes from the plural of Arabic word sahel (singular) or its plural sawahil meaning “boundary” or “coast?” Just one cool fact I discovered today myself.