Greetings in Swahili

In the Swahili language, greetings can be grouped into formal greetings and informal greetings. Greetings are often times intended to know how one feels health-wise and socialize with them.

Formal Greetings

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Formal greetings are specifically used for serious conversations with people we respect or who are less familiar to us. They express a sense of politeness and seriousness.

Habari za asubuhi (good morning)

Habari za mchana (good afternoon)

Habari za jioni (good evening)

Habari za saa hizi (how are the news now?

Hujambo? (how are you?)

Shikamoo (humbly greeting you)

Dialogue 1

JOHN: Habari za asubuhi Maria!

MARIA: Nzuri (good), Habari yako

JOHN: Salama (fine) 

             Dialogue 2

SARA: Shikamoo mama!

JOYCE: Marahaba hujambo (how are you) mwanangu (my child)?

SARA: Sijambo! (I’m fine)

            Dialogue 3

PAULO: Habari za saa hizi?

FATMA: Salama tu, za kwako (yours)?

PAULO: Safi (well) 

Maswali/Questions

fill in the blanks with the appropriate greeting

  1. SAM: ……………………………………………………..

BEKA: Marahaba, hujambo?

SAM:………………………………………………….

  • ASHA: ………………………………….

SALMA: Nzuri za kwako?

AISHA: Salama tu.

Informal Greetings

These greetings are mainly used in conversations with friends or people who are close to us. these greetings carry a sense of casualness, informality, intimacy, etc.  

Mambo vipi? (hi)

Inakuaje? (how?)

Niambie (tell me)

Niaje? (how is it?

Mambo yanaendaje (how are things going)

Dialogue 1

MUSA: Mambo vipi mwanangu (dude)?

ALI: Poa tu (just fine), mambo?

MUSA: Fresh kabisa (really fine)

            Dialogue 2

DEO: Inakuaje mzee?

HAJI: Poa mwanangu, niaje?

DEO: Amani (peace)

              Dialogue 3

KIZITO: Mambo yanaendaje mwanangu?

HOZA: Yanaenda poa mzee, vipi Maisha (how is life)?

KIZITO: Yanaenda mdogo  mdogo (it’s moving steadily slowly)

Insert the appropriate reply to the greeting

  1. WARDA: Mambo vp Musa?

MUSA: …………………………….

WARDA: Poa poa

  • NISHA: Niaje mwanangu?

CHOLO: ……………………………

NISHA: Fresh tu mzee.

In addition, there are greetings that are typically connected to a particular religious group within the Swahili community. For example:

  • Tumsifu Yesu Kristo (let’s praise Jesus Christ) for the Catholics
  • Bwana (Yesu) asifiwe ( Praise the Lord (Jesus) for the Protestants
  • Asalaam alaykum (peace be upon you) for the Muslims.

Mifano Zaidi / More Examples

  1. SAM: Tumsifu Yesu Kristo!

             JANE: Milele amina.

  • MIKE: Bwana asifiwe!

JOYCE: Amen.

  • AHMED: As-salamu alaykum!

HAMISA: Wa-Alaikum -Salaam

             Zoezi / Exercise

Itikia (respond) salamu zifuatazo:

  1. Maria: Bwana Yesu asifiwe!

             Peter:……………………….

  • CRISS: Tumsifu Yesu Kristo!

FAITH:…………………….

  • ALI: Asalam alaykum!

JOHA:…………………..

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