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Vishikwambi, Simu janja, Larry Madowo struggles to keep up with Tanzanian Swahili

By Wangu Kanuri December 27th, 2022 2 min read

Renowned journalist Larry Madowo is struggling to keep up with Tanzanian Swahili.

Madowo appeared shocked by swahili terms used by Kenya’s neighbour’s to the south, so much that he argued he could not really comprehend how those words were coined in Swahili.

He tweeted, “Tanzanians call smartphones ‘vishkwambi’ in Kiswahili sanifu. They’re just making up words now.”

He was then be corrected by a Tanzanian who tweeted, “Noooo Larry 🤣 vishkwambi are tablets – smartphones are simu janja! Laptop is tarakilishi mpakato or kipakatalishi🤣 pole aisee!”

In response, the award-winning journalist said, “Tanzanians need to be stopped. All words are made up? Huge if true.”

The CNN journalist then suggested  the Tanzanian government is still silent on the terminologies.

Last year, he asked his fans to rate him after speaking Swahili to a guest whom he interviewed on CNN.

Amil Habari gani, sina neno hongera sana kwa kazi mzuri. Nilifurahia sana nilipo ona habari nikasema lazima tukuhoji, (Amil how are you, congratulations for a job well done. I was happy when I saw the news and I said to myself I must interview you)” he spoke to the producer in a behind the scenes video he shared on his social media.

Kiswahili is the official language in East Africa but most residents in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan struggle to express themselves in the dialect.

In Tanzania, Kiswahili maintains the status of both the official and national language and has also been adopted as an official language of the East African Community (EAC), the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Dominant in Tanzania, the language is widely used in communication by all despite the country having over 120 languages. Additionally, the United Nations Educational, Scientific Organization (Unesco) marked July 7th as the International Kiswahili Day with the day being marked in order to drum up support for the language which has lately won popularity in some African countries and regional bodies.

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