Karibu, Mgeni? / Welcome, Guest?: a Swahili poem about HospitalityPosted: December 26, 2012
A Swahili poem about Hospitality, based on the proverb
Mgeni siku mbili, ya tatu mpe jembe /
If a guest has stayed two days, on the third hand him a hoe
Mgeni siku ya kwanza . The first day give the guest
mpe mchele na panza . rice with flying fish
mtilie kifuani . embrace him,
mkaribishe mgeni . introduce him to your family.
Mgeni siku ya pili . The second day
mpe ziwa na samli . give him milk and butter.
mahaba yakizidia . If love can increase
mzidie mgeni. . give more to the guest.
Mgeni siku ya tatu . The third day
jumbani hamuna kitu . there is nothing left
Mna zibaba zitatu . but three bags of rice
pika ule na mgeni . boil it and eat.
Mgeni siku ya nne . The fourth day
mpe jembe akalime . give him a hoe to farm.
Akirudi muagane . When he comes back say
enda kwao mgeni . Goodbye, go home, dear guest.
Mgeni siku ya tano . The fifth day
mwembamba kama sindano . the guest is needle-thin
Hauishi musengenyano . He does not listen to advice,
asengenyao mgeni . the guest is well warned.
Mgeni siku ya sita . The sixth day,
mkila mkajificha . hide in a corner
mwingine vipembeni . while you eat,
afichwaye yeye mgeni . out of sight from the guest.
Mgeni siku ana ya sabaa . The seventh day
si mgeni a na baa . a guest now is a monster
Hatta moto mapaani . and has put fire
akatia yeye mgeni. . to the roof.
Mgeni siku ya nane . The eighth day
njo ndani tuonane . the guest comes in to greet us.
Atapotokea nje . When he comes outside
tuagane mgeni . we take leave.
Mgeni siku ya kenda . The ninth day:
enenda mwana kwenenda! . go now, son, go now
Usirudi nyuma . and don’t come back
usirudi mgeni . don’t return, oh guest.
Mgeni siku ya kumi . The tenth day, chase him away,
kwa mateke na magumi . with kicks and blows.
Hapana afukuzwaye . There is no other such a one
yeye mgeni. . who is chased away this way.
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Hospitality poem: courtesy of Albert Scheven and Dr. Peter Ojiambo, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language of East Africa spoken by various ethnic groups in several contiguous states. Fewer than 10 million people speak Swahili as their mother tongue but more than 60 million use it as a ‘ lingua franca ‘ for commerce and transnational communication. It is an official language in five countries: Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Written Swahili once used the Arabic script but now the Latin alphabet is standard. There have been many Swahili dialects; modern Swahili is based on the dialect used in Mji Mkongwe (the name of the old-town quarter in Zanzibar City, Zanzibar, Tanzania).
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