It’s almost like as if they are already keeping the thumb on the phone’s red button.

Trying to call someone in Nairobi from abroad is easy and cheap, lakini most jamaas there – it seems – are used to 10 seconds conversation: no long greetings, a very short smalltalk and then an abrupt ending.

– “Eh, hello, this is JKE calling.”
“Oh, r u in Nairobi?”
– “No, I am calling from Germany…so, how are you?”
“Oh, here everything is just fine.”

… (~ 20 seconds)

“Ok, goodbye & thx for calling.”
– “Ah…?”


Irritating, especially since I am the one who is calling and paying for the call.

AOB: came across this textbook on “Swahili for Starters” yesterday while strolling through our local (university) library.


I just had to borrow something as all the books I went there for were already taken by someone else and since the really interesting stuff (as pictured below) wasn’t available for lending.


Kikuyu-English Dictionary, by T.G.Benson, Oxford @ Clarendon Press, 1964

(and the best thing I saw there was a Lingala-English dictionary…*sigh*)


Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at Saniblog.org. You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

7 thoughts on “HelloHowRUIAmFineOkGoodBye”

  1. And here I was thinking the conversation went something like this
    JKE: Hallo
    NwW: Harro
    JKE: This is JKE.
    NwW: Ati nani?> UUU?
    JKE: Kikuyumoja
    NwW: Haiya , uhioro uga.ahhh pole how arrr you?
    JKE: Fine , fine , na wewe?
    NwW: Fin, fin bwana sema, how is gaman? When u r koming bak bwana?

    Jke: Since you have met our househelp manze she can be so annoying on the phone (Gid bless her she is amazing lakini phone etiquette), you call and she says harro, harro liek twenty times, then I go ni ciru,then she goes again harro, ati nani, mama , ati nani? unasema nini? Then I go it is ciru,how are you? She goes, sisi tuko sawa, mama hayuko, then another harro, harro, sikusikii, then before I say a word =click she hangs up on me ..mama mia ….I feel your pain LOL

  2. Ati lingala -English, I need that for all those Koffi Olomide songs I hum to may be meaning something else than I really thought *sigh* :-)

  3. T.G. Benson! Good times! I go to it every few months to remember the meaning of the most basic words. I especially love the acknowledgments.

  4. Hm… Is there “JKE German” available as well? By the way: “Ati” means ?
    Sounds like a phrase I could use 20 time a day. Depending on its meaning, of course.

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