Monday, February 18, 2008

In honor of the President's visit to Tanzania, here's my favorite website out of Dar Es Salaam with all kinds of cool pop culture stuff. Well, yes, it's mostly in Swahili, but don't let that stop you from enjoying it. It's a view of a side of Africa we don't get to see too often here in the U.S.: something beyond war, privation, disease, or large game animals.

Tips: "Bongo" is the local nickname for Dar Es Salaam-- 'bongo' means 'brains'-- the idea is that you have to be really smart to survive there. People, especially young men, come from all over Tanzania to try to find work there-- and that may not work out unless they have some serious street smarts.

Here in the Bongomdundo ("rhythm of Bongo [i.e. Dar]") section you can listen to some local music. Click on any of the links in the upper right under "masongi" (surely I don't need to translate that? Hint: 'ma-' is a prefix that makes a word plural) to hear some awesome local tunes. I'd recommend one, but I'm on dial-up here and it's a bit slow going. If you have trouble, too, maybe try this online radio station, Bongo Radio.

Here's their list of local slang, with translations into standard Swahili and English. Warning: like slang everywhere, some of them are not polite! Some of the transaltions are mystifying, and some are hilarious if you can read all of the translations. Some pose a clear danger of unintentional hilarity for learners of Swahili, like 'kupumzika'. In textbook Swahili, it is an innocent word meaning 'to rest'. Apparently in the slang, it means to fart. Oh, my!

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