Learning a new language takes time, dedication, curiosity. Some dialects are particularly harder than others – sometimes our tongues just won’t do what we tell them to do, our mouths just cannot figure out how to roll that “r”, how to create the correct click or intonation, or how to emphasis the right syllable. But just as we learnt our own mother tongue, we can learn a new one, with a whole other sound system of words. We can learn this through meeting other cultures, but we can also teach ourselves at home, with the Royal Chundu Homeschool!
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Proverb
It’s often said that the best time to try to learn a new language is much like when planting a tree – the earlier the better. Kids seem to pick up new languages much faster. But it’s never too late for learning. We need only start with the basics. Having a few common local phrases to use when travelling is not only helpful to navigate your way around, but it’s also a way of bringing you closer to people.
With over 70 languages, Zambia is a complex network of different tribes, that are quite unique in that there is little animosity between them. It’s a harmony that led the first Zambian president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda coining the national slogan, “One Zambia One Nation”.
The main tribes here are the Lozi, Bemba, Ngoni, Tonga, Luvale, and Kaonde. In our team at the lodge, there are members of many of these different clans. The union of them all in our small riverbank family gives us insight into so many fascinating stories and lessons and ways. While the tribes may differ, there are also many commonalities that unite them, reminding us of the humanity we all share.
Our outgoing waitress, beautiful spirit and loving young mother, Chipo, and our head waiter, wit-spinner and charming quick-tongued storyteller, Kombo, are especially fond of teaching our travellers new words and phrases in local dialects, in particular in Nyanja, commonly called Ici Nyanja.
Nyanja is spoken in the capital city of Lusaka. All the Zambian languages are spoken in almost all the different provinces, but they are prominent in certain regions.
As we start off the Royal Chundu Homeschool, let’s begin with a few introductions! Gather round and let’s practice! Soon you’ll be able to have whole conversations with our team! Below, Chipo demonstrates the basics… Good morning ~ Mwauka bwanji (greeting), Mwauka bwino (response).
Let class commence! And let’s learn Nyanja
Hello ~ Moni
Sir (or) Mister ~ Abambo
Madam ~ Amayi
How are you? ~ Muli bwanji?
Fine, thank you (And you?) ~ Nili Bwino (Kaya inu? / Kaya anzathu?)
What is your name? ~ Dzina lanu ndimwe ndani? My name is ______ . Dzina langa ndi ______ .
Please ~ Napapata
Thank you ~ Zikomo (very common and ends most conversations)
“See you later”/We shall meet ~ Tizaonana
Goodbye (meaning, I’m going.) ~ Nayenda
Have a safe journey ~ Muyende bwino
Stay well ~ Tsalani bwino / Musale bwino
Good morning~ Mwauka bwanji? Mwauka bwino (response)
Good afternoon / evening ~ Mwachoma bwanji? (greeting) Nachoma bwino (response)
Good night ~ Mugone bwino
Sleep well ~ Gonani bwino or Mugone bwino
Stay curious, friends and family! Keep learning!
And share your learnings with us. We’d love to watch you trying out these phrases too. Simply share a video of your own efforts in practicing Nyanja on social media, with the hashtag #royalchunduhomeschool and we’ll share them too ~ as part of our global classroom, in the school of life.