Saturday, January 29, 2011

Learning the Language

I will admit that I'm still a bit intimidated about speaking the little bit of swahili I do know, especially when it's in the market buying things.  I know my numbers, but there are no fixed prices for things and bargaining for a good price is the way of the land.

I was in the kitchen yesterday after an afternoon in the market with Mama Cecilia and Mama Leah and while I was there I broke a spoon.  I mean it was one of those little plastic ones that you could get a pack of 20 from the Dollar Store at home.  But I felt terrible.

I told them I would get them a new kijiko (spoon) on Monday figuring that I could just go to one of the shops over the weekend with someone and pick up a couple.  But instead, I decided to suck it up and give my swahili bargaining skills a try.

I walked through the market in Mabatini (where the kitchen is) until I found someone selling kitchen utensils.  I asked how much for one (moja) metal spoon and he responded mia mbili (200 TSH).  I told him I'd take three (tatu) for mia tano (500 TSH).  He repeated it was 200 for one, but I said again I'd take three for 500 TSH.  It wasn't a really hard bargain, but he agreed in the end and I got the three for the price I wanted.

Yes, it was only 100 shillings that I saved, which is only a few cents at home.  But the moral of the story is that from being around the Mamas in the kitchen and the market and being out and about Mwanza the past couple weeks, I'm gaining confidence everyday and learning the language.  Even if it's just a little everyday (kidogo kila siku).


  1. i doubt i could bargain in english!

  2. Poa! Nicely done.
    Is Mabatini a suburb of Mwanza?

  3. Mabatini is basically like how Erin Mills or Streetsville is to Mississauga.