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Say it with kangas
Kangas, the traditional pieces of cloth worn by Swahili women for almost every occasion, are decorated in vibrant hues, with stunning patterns and motifs. But ask any Swahili woman the most important thing about her kanga and she will tell you it's the phrase that adorns the kanga - used to communicate love messages, warnings, advice, bemoan problems or express appreciation.
Mambo brings you 20 of the most interesting kanga phrases, their literal translations and the real meaning that is to be delivered to the kanga reader - whether a husband, love rival or neighbour, or indeed God.
1. Upendo ni tunda la moyo: Love is comfort to the heart
This message means that everyone needs to be loved and feels happy to be loved.
2. Hata ukiwa mbali nitakujali: I will care for and respect you even when you are far from me
This message insists that we should be honest to our partners even if we are apart; it is also a message for fighting against HIV/AIDS.
3. Maisha mazuri: Life is good
This message encourages those who are in despair and find life to be tough, telling them that life is good, they should just find a way to simplify it and manage.
4. Siri ya maisha ni ujasiri: Courage is the secret for life
This message explains that, in order to make the most of life, someone has to be courageous. It insists that life is good to everyone one, but you should know how to go about it.
5. Upelelezi ni sumu ya mapenzi: Spying is poisonous to love
This message suggests that you should not spy on your lover as you can hear or find a lot that is true or untrue about him. What you hear about him from other people can make you mistrust him and thus hate him. This can even mean the end of your love. Generally it tells that no human being is perfect, so if you are looking for a perfect lover you will always change lovers and never find one.
6. Bahati ikikataa hata kwa mganga haitofaa: If you are unlucky don’t expect that you can be lucky through a traditional healer
Luck is something that someone cannot seek out; it comes naturally. It also tells us not to trust in medicine men for success in life.
7. Chaja ya kobe: A multipurpose charger
This message is against people who have many lovers...
8. Habari ndiyo hiyo: That’s the news
This message talks about someone who disputes news or information given to them; it means that’s the way it is whether you like it or not.
9. Mpaka kiama sitamsahau mama: I will never forget my mother until the end of the world
This message shows the importance of a mother due to her role in a family.
10. Shida ni mtihani humfika kila mtu: Everyone normally experiences problems
This message encourages those who grumble a lot or become depressed when they get problems. It tells them that every human being should experience some problems in their life.
11. Usikumbuke maovu ukasahau fadhila: Don’t remember bad deeds and forget the good ones
This message says that we should be thankful for any good done to us because many people tend to ignore every good thing done to them just due to a single bad thing or mistake.
12. Upendo wa Mungu wanizunguka: God’s love surrounds me
This message says that God has great love for people and his love is everywhere.
13. Jogoo ni jogoo huwika popote: A rooster always remains to be a rooster, it crows anywhere
This message tells that a person’s true nature can never be hidden from her/him; it always reveals itself.
14. Kukaa kimya ni jibu la mjinga: Silence is the answer to a fool
This message advises us not to argue with a fool; you will waste your time and lose your reputation for nothing.
15. Maskini naye mtu japokuwa hana kitu: A poor person is also a human being even if they have nothing
This message tells us not to disregard people due to their bad economical situation.
16. Pole kwa yaliyokufika Mungu atakupa subira: My sympathy to you for what has befallen you; God will grant you patience
This message advises us to console others when they experience problems. It also shows faith to God; that we trust in him for everything.
17. Nakushukuru kwa wema wako: Thank you for your goodness/kindness
This message reminds us that we should appreciate the goodness of others and be thankful to those who help us in one way or another.
18. Zawadi ni chochote kupokea usichoke: A gift can be anything, so don’t be tired of receiving gifts
This message tells us that we should value any kind of gift given to us; since someone offers what s/he can afford.
19. Kuolewa ni nuru Mungu ameamuru: Marriage is light that God has granted us
This message shows the value of marriage, especially in Tanzanian culture or maybe to Africans in general.
20. Jipe moyo utashinda: Encourage yourself, you will succeed
This message tells us never to despair in life.