Kenyan English

I lived in Kenya for six years, from 2005-2011, and one of the things that I loved about the country was the Kenyan accent and the direct translation of Swahili to English. I tried to remember the funny phrasing as below with the probable Swahili  source, and it had me and my sister in stitches! We reminisced about when we were new to the country and struggling to understand the patois of the people who hailed from the villages but worked in Nairobi. English is the official language but is usually only spoken by upper-middle to upper class Kenyans who’ve completed their secondary – and often tertiary- education.


[ Nasikia njaa/ Nasikia baridi] I hear hunger/ I hear cold –  I feel hungry/ I feel cold

[ Ukona miaka mingapi?] How many years do you have – How old are you

[ Una kaa wapi?] Where do you pack/ where do you stay – Where do you live

[ Chapa stories] Beat stories – Tell stories

[ Chukua breakfast] Take breakfast – Eat breakfast

[ Wewe ni dini gani] What religion are you – What religion do you follow

[ Fanya haraka] Do faster – Hurry up

[ Hata mimi] Even me – Me too

On the light – Turn on the light

[ Imekataa kufanya] It has refused – It’s not working

[ Naweza sikia kizungu kidogo] I can hear some English – I understand a bit of English

[ Unakaa smart ] You look too smart – You look good

[ Umenimaliza!] You’ve finished me – You made me laugh

I’m alighting the matatu right now – I’m getting off the bus right now

My names are – My name is

[ Akona roho safi] He has a clean heart – He is kind-hearted



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