It's Zeee-bra, Not Zeh-bra

Here's another blog inspired by my Request Line post.  Anonymous Carly asked: If you were an animal what would you be and why? 

(I apologize now, this is the kind of blog you get when I'm in the midst of typing up notes and studying for my Level 1 Kiswahili exam.  Don't be scared of the sheng, a mix of Kiswahili phrases pamjoja na kizungu maneno, definitions are provided at the bottom.  Think of it as a bure foreign language lesson.  You're welcome.)

After much thought I decided I would like to be a punda milia.  It was a tossup between that and a paka lakini paka who lives with me sasa made me decide against it.  What if I ended up paka mbaya, cranky and bitey instead of mzuri sana and lazy?

Kwa nini punda milia instead?  And no, it was not because I know the Kiswahili word for zebra.  Iko kwa sababu their entire mission in life is to stand around and look cute.  Their backs are too weak for them to be used to cart things or people about (lucky them!) kama a horse or punda (despite what you saw in Swiss Family Robinson...I'm still waiting to ride an ostrich).  And they are milia na mrembo and seem very laidback.  (See below: punda milia having some fun rolling about in the udongo.  Yes, yes, I know he's just trying to prevent sunburn, but yeye alimfurahi while doing so.)  Plus, kama wewe unapiga picha wa punda milia you can use this cool new technology, a "stripespotter" code, to track which punda milia was at that location using the "barcode" on its side.

                                         Zebras at Nairobi National Park

                                         Zebra at Nakuru National Park

Swahili 101:
pamoja na kizungu maneno- together with English words
bure- free

punda milia- (a) zebra (there are no articles in Kiswahili so you just have to use the context to figure out if it's referring to a/the whatever)
paka- (a/the) cat
lakini- but
sasa- now
mbaya- bad
mzuri sana- very nice

kwa nini- why
iko kwa sababu- it is because
kama- like
punda- donkey
milia- striped
na- and
mrembo- pretty/beautiful (I'm not sure if this can be applied to animals since it's generally used to only describe females but since I would be a female zebra I'm going with it)
udongo- soil/dirt
yeye alimfurahi- he was enjoying himself
kama wewe unapiga picha wa- if you take a picture of


  1. iko kwa sababu is inccorect use of kiswahili, you should say, ni kwa sababu.

    and alimfaurahi is not even swahili, i think you meant to say amefurahi which would mean he's happy, there's really no way of saying enjoying himself in swahili.

    sorry, for the unsolicited advice, but i actually think your swahili is quite good and i am enjoying reading your blog.