Instagram

Follow Me!

Africa Rwanda Travel

A Crash Course In Kinyarwanda

August 25, 2016
Staycuriousdarling.com (3)

The national language in Rwanda is Kinyarwanda a bantu language and like many bantu languages is very tonal. Although English is now the second language (switched from French in 1988) and is widely spoken in the capital, Kigali. If you are planning to leave Kigali, however and go and explore the rest of the country knowing some Kinyarwanda phrases will come in very useful. A few things to note some Rwandans pronounce “k” as “ch.”. Even if your Kinyarwanda isn’t perfect and the school kids giggle at your mispronunciations that local population in Rwanda will appreciate your effort to speak the local language and you may even form some close friendships while you are there. Although it’s taken me 6 years to learn Kinyarwanda and I still haven’t mastered it completely below is a guide of useful words and phrases to get you started.

Greetings

Hello (if you are meeting someone for the first time or you haven’t seen them in a long time): Muraho | How it sounds: Mur-Ahh-Hoe
Good morning: Mwaramutse | How it sounds: Mwah-Rah-Moot-ZAY
Good afternoon: Mwiriwe | How it sounds Mwee-Ree-Way
Good night: Ijoro rwiza | How it sounds: ee-Jor-Row Gwee-Zah
Have a good day: Umunsi Mwiza | How it sounds: Oo- Moon-See Mwee-Zah
Have a good evening: Umugoroba mwiza | How it sounds: Ooo-Moo-Goh-Roh-Bah Mwee-Zah
How are you? (Literally what is the news?): Amakuru | How it sounds: Ahh-Mahh-Koo-Roo
Response – No News : Ni meza | How it sounds: Nee Mez-ahh
How are you doing?: Umeze gute | How it sounds: ooo-May-zay Goo-Tay?
Response – Not Bad: Meze neza | How it sounds: Mez-zeh Nez-zah
What’s up?: Bitese? | How it sounds: Bee-Tess
Response: nib giza | How it sounds: Nib Gee-Zah
Thank you: Murakoze | How it sounds: Moo-Rah-Koh-Zay
Thank you very much: Murakoze Cyane | How it sounds: Moo-Rah-Koh-Zay Chan-Ney
You, too: Nawe | How it sounds: Nahh-Way
Goodbye (afternoon): Mwirirwe | How it sounds: Mee-Ree-Gway
Goodbye (evening): Muramuke | How it sounds: Moo-Rah-Moo-Kay
Goodbye (when you are leaving for a long time): Murabeho | How it sounds: Moo-Rah-Bay-Hoe
See you tomorrow: Ni ahejo | How it sounds: Nah Hay-Joe
See you soon: Turongera| How it sounds: Too-Ron-Gay-Rah
Yes: Yego | How it sounds: Yay-Go
No: Oya | How it sounds: Oi-yeah
What’s your name?: Witwa nde | How it sounds: Wit-wan-Day?
My name is: Nitwa | How it sounds: Neat-wah
Nice to meet you (one person): Ndabishimiye | How it sounds: Ndah-Bee-Sheem-Yay
Nice to meet you (plural): Nishimiye kuba menya | How it sounds: Nee-Sheem-Yay Koo-Bah Men-Yah
Good: Meza | How it sounds: May-Zahh
Bad: Bibi | How it sounds: Bee-Bee
Welcome: Murakaza neza | How it sounds: Moo-Rah-Kah-Zah Nay-Zah
Feel at home: Murisanga | How it sounds: Moo-Ree-Sahan-Gah
To have compassion: Imbabazi | How it sounds – em-Bah-Bah-Zee
Excuse me : Ndasaba inzira | How it sounds – nDah-Sah-Bah een=Zee-Rah

Useful Phrases

I want: Ndashaka | How it sounds: nDah-Shah-Kah
You want: Urashaka | How it sounds: ooo-Rah-Shah-Kah
I have: Mfite | How it sounds: mFee-Tay
You have (Do you have?): Ufite | How it sounds: ooo-Fee-Tay
I don’t have: Simfite | How it sounds: Seem-Fee-Tay
What is your job?: Ukora iki? | How it sounds: Oo-Koh-rE-ee-key
How is your family?: Amakuru yo murugo? | How it sounds: Ahh-Mah-Koo-Roo Yo-Moo-Roo-Goh
Do you have time?: Ufite umwanya | How it sounds: ooo-Feet-oom Wah-Nyah
No problem: Ntakibazo | How it sounds: Nah-key-Ba-Zoh
I speak a little Kinyarwanda: Kinyarwanda cyanje n’igikye | How it sounds: Keen-Yah-Gwanda Chee-An-Jee-eh Nee-Gee-Key-eh
I’m trying: Ndagerageza | How it sounds: Nda-Gay-Ra-Gay-Zah
I don’t understand that: Simbyumva | How it sounds: Seem-By-Oom-Vah
I don’t know: Simbizi | How it sounds: Seem-Bee-Zee
I know: Ndabizi | How it sounds: nDah-Bee-Zee
Repeat: Subiramo | How it sounds: Soo-Bee-Rah-Moh
Me, too: Najye | How it sounds: Nah-Jee-Yay
Are you married?: Urubatse? | How it sounds: Oo-Roo-Baht-Say
I am married: Ndubatse | How it sounds: nDoo-Bah-tSay
Are you single?: Uri ingaragu? | How it sounds: Oo-Reen-Gah-Rah-Goo?
I am single: Ndi ingaragu | How it sounds: nDeen-Gah-Rah-Goo
Do you have children?: Ufite abana? | How it sounds: Oo-Fee-Tah-Bah-Nah
I don’t have: Simfite | How it sounds: Seem-Fee-Tay
Also: Kandi | How it sounds: Kahn-Dee
And: Na | How it sounds: Nah
Because: Kuko | How it sounds: Koo-Koh
Bless You (after a sneeze): Murakire | How it sounds: Moo-Rah-Kee-Ray
Do you need to go to the bathroom? (useful if you are traveling with children, or me haha): Ura shaka kwi tuma? | How it sounds: Oo-Rah-Shah-Kah Kwee-Too-Mah
Where is the bathroom?: Aho kwituma ni he? | How it sounds: Ah-Ho Kweet-Oo-Mah Nee-Hay?
Go ahead: Komeza | How it sounds: Koh-May-Zah
I don’t want: Sinshaka | How it sounds: Seen-Shah-Kah
I like: Nkunda | How it sounds: nHoon-Dah
What are you looking for?: Ura shakiki? | How it sounds: Oo-Rah-Shah-Kee-Kee
Here we sell: Hano Hari | How it sounds: Ha-No Ha-Ree
We sell: Ducuruza |How it sounds: Doo-Koo-Roo-Zah
Plastic bottle: Agacupa | How it sounds: eh-gah-Chew-Pa
I don’t have a plastic bottle: Agacupa Pfite | How it sounds: eh-gah-Chew-Pa Pf-Ee-Tay
There’s still water in this bottle: Hari Mu Amazi | How it sounds: Hah-Ree Moo-Ah-Mah-Zee
Is: Ni | How it sounds: Nee
Isn’t that so? Or isn’t that right? (If you say it) (this is used a lot): Si byo? | How it sounds: SeeB-yoh
Isn’t that so? Or isn’t that right? (In response to something someone else has said): Ni byo? | How it sounds: NeeB-yoh
It’s good: Ni byiza | How it sounds: Nee Bee-za
Listen (you will hear this a lot as well): Umva | How it sounds: Oom-Vah
What?: Iki | How it sounds: Ee-Key
What are you doing?: Urakora iki? | How it sounds: Oo-Rah-Koh-Ree-Kee
What are you saying?: Uti iki? | How it sounds: Oo-Tee-Kee
What is this?: EeKeeNeeKee? (Iki n’iki?)
What is this?: N’igiki? | How it sounds: Nee-Gee-Kee
When?: Ryali | How it sounds: Ree-Ah-Dee
Who? (singular): Nde | How it sounds: N-day
Who? (plural): Bande | How it sounds: Bahn-Day
Who are you looking for: Urashaka nde? | How it sounds: Oo-Rah-Shah-Kah n-Day
Why?: Kuki | How it sounds: Koo-Kee
Happy Birthday: Isabukuru nziza y’amavuko) | How it sounds: Ee-Sah-Boo-Koo-Roo nZee-Zah Yah-Mah-Voo-Koh
I am tired: Ndananiwe | How it sounds: End-AHN-ahn-EE-way
Rest well: Urukuke neza | How it sounds: Oo-Roo-Hoo-Kay Nay-Zah
It is cold? Ira conge? | How it sounds: Ee-Rah Cohn-Jay
It is hot? Ira shyushye? | How it sounds: Ee-Rah Shoo-Shay?

Drinks

I’m thirsty: Mfite Inyota| How it sounds: MFee-Tay Een-Yow-Tah
Cheers :Dusangire Karyohe | How it sounds: Doo-Sahn-Gee-Ray Car-Gee-Oh-Hay
Drinks: Ibinyobwa | How it sounds: Ee-Been-Yob-Gah
Cold: Bikonje | How it sounds: Bee-Cone-jay
Room temperature: Inshyushye | How it sounds: Een-she-eoo-Shay
Hot: Inshyushye | How it sounds: Een-shoe-shay
Milk (general): Amata | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Tah
Powdered milk: Amata Y’ifu | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Tah Yee-Foo
Milk (to drink): inshyushyu | How it sounds: Een-Chiu-Chiu
Yogurt milk: Ikivuguto | How it sounds: Ee-Key-Voo-Goo-Toe
Water: Amazi | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Zee
Cold water: Amazi akonje | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Zee Ah-Cone-Jay
Beer: Ibyeri | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Yeah-Ree
Tea: Icyayi | How it sounds: Ee Chai-Yee
Coffee: Ikawa | How it sounds: Ee-Kah-wah
Fruit juice: Umutobe w’imbuto | How it sounds: Oo-Moo-Toe-Bay Weem-Boo-Toe
Coke: Coca | How it sounds: Koh-Kah

Food

I’m hungry: Nda Shonge | How it sounds: NDah Shown-Jay
Are you hungry?: Ura shonge? | How it sounds: Oo-Rah Shown-Jay?
I’m not hungry: Ntabwo shonge | How it sounds: NHab-Goh Shown-Jay
I’m full: Nda Haze | How it sounds: Ndah Ha-zee
Bon Appetit: Muryohe Rwe | How it sounds: Moor-Yeoh-Hair-Gway
Food: Ibiryo | How it sounds: Ee-Beer-Yoh
Fruit: Imbuto | How it sounds: Eem-Boo-Toe
Vegetables: Imboga | How it sounds: Eem-Boh-gah
Avocadoes: Avoka | How it sounds: Ahh-Voh-Kah
Bananas: Imineke | How it sounds: Ee-mee-Nay-kay
Sweet Banana: Matoke | How it sounds: Mah-Toe-Kay
Beans: Ibihyimbo | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Heem-boh
Bread: Umukati | How it sounds: Oo-moo-Kah-tee
Butter: Amavuta | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Voo-Tah
Carrots: Amakaroti | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Kah-Row-Tee
Cassava: Inyumbati | How it sounds: Eem-Yoom-Bah-Tee
Corn meal: Ugali | How it sounds: Oo-Gah-Lee
Corn: Ikigori | How it sounds: Ee-Key-Gor-Ee
Corn cake: Keke | How it sounds: cake
Tomatoes: Inyanya | How it sounds: Een-Yahn-yah
Cabbage: Ishu | How it sounds: Ee-Shoo
Onions: Ubuntunguru | How it sounds: Oo-Boo-Toon-Goo-Roo
Passionfruit: Marakuja | How it sounds: Mara-Koo-jah
Peas: Amashaza | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Shah-Zah
Pineapple: Inanasi | How it sounds: Ee-Nah-Nah-See
Plantains: Igitoke | How it sounds: Ig-ee-Toe-Gee
Potatoes: Ibirayi | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Rai-Yee
Sweet potatoes: Ibijumba | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Joom-Bah
Rice: Umuceli | How it sounds: Oo-Moo-chel-Lee
Salt: Umunyu | How it sounds: Oo- Moon- Yoo
Donuts: Amandazi | How it sounds: Ah-Man-Dah-Zi
Eggs: Amagi | How it sounds: Ah-mah-gee
Chicken: Inkoko | How it sounds: Een-Koh-Koh
Fish: Ifi | How it sounds: Ee-Fee
Little fish: Isambaza | How it sounds: Sam-Bah-Zah
Goat: Ihene | How it sounds: Ee-Hen-Ay
Sheep: EenTahMah (Intama)
Cow: inka | How it sounds: Ing-ka
Meat: Inyama | How it sounds: Een-Yah-Mah
Soup: Isupu | How it sounds: Ee-Soo-Poo
Sugar: Isukari | How it sounds: Ee-Soo-Kah-ree
Tree tomatoes (my favourite 🙂 ): Ikinyomoro | How it sounds: Ee-Keen-Yoh-Mor-Oh
When is the food going to be ready?: Bigeze he? | How it sounds: Bee-Gay-Zay Hay?
The food is good: Ibibiryo ni byiza | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Beer-Gyo Nee Bee-Zah

Transportation

You are going: Ugiye | How it sounds: Oo-Gee-ehh
Where are you going?: Ugiye hehe? | How it sounds: Oo-Gee-ay-Hay-Hay
Where are you coming from?: Uvuye he? |How it sounds: Oo-voo-yay hay
Where are you?: Uri he? | How it sounds: Oo-Ree-Hay
Where do you live?: Utuye he? | How it sounds: Oo-Too-Yay Hay
I live: Ntuye | How it sounds: Nhoo-Yay
Where is?: Ni he hari | How it sounds: Nee Hay Ha-ree
I am going to: Ngiye | How it sounds: NGee-eh
To the city: mumugi | How it sounds: Moo-Moo-gee
To the Bus Station (in Kigali): Nybigogo | How it sounds: Nah-Bee-Go-Go
To go: Gutaha | How it sounds: Goo-Tah-Hah
Go!: genda |How it sounds: GenDah
Let’s go: tugende | How it sounds: Too-Gen-Day
I want to go: Ndashaka gutaha | How it sounds: NDah-Shah-Kah Goo-Tah-Ha
I don’t want to go: Sinshaka gutaha | How it sounds: Seen-Shah-Kah Goo-Tah-Hah
Where is it?: Ni he he? | How it sounds: Nee-Hay-Hay?
It’s close? : Ni hafi? | How it sounds: Nee Hah-Fee
It’s far?: Ni kure? | How it sounds: Nee Koo-Ray
Go Straight: Komeze Imbere | How it sounds: Ko-May-Zay Eem-Bay-Ray
Left: Ibumoso | How it sounds: Ee-Boo-Mo-So
Right: Iburyo | How it sounds: Ee-Burg-yo
Behind: Inyuma | How it sounds: Een-Yoo-Mah
Between: Hagatiya | How it sounds: Hah-Gah-Tee-Yah
Over there: Hariya | How it sounds: Har-Ee-Yah
Inside: Arimo | How it sounds: Ah-Ree-Moh
Inside: Munzu | How it sounds: Moon-Zoo
Outside: Hanze | How it sounds: Hahn-Zay
It’s here: Ni hano | How it sounds: Nee Ha-No
It’s there: Ni hariya | How it sounds: Nee Hah-REEY-ah
Stop!: Hagarara! | How it sounds: Hah-Gah-Rah-Rah
Wait!: Buretse! | How it sounds: Boo-Rayt-Say
Don’t wait: Witegereza | How it sounds: Wee-Tay-Gay-Ray-Zah
Airport: Ikibuga cy’indege | How it sounds: Ee-Kee-Boo-Gah Cheen-Day-Gay
Bicycle: Igare | How it sounds: Ee-Gah-Ray
Bus: Bisi | How it sounds: BeeSee
Car: Imodoka | How it sounds: Ee-Moh-Doh-Kah
Motorcycle Taxi: Moto

Money

Money: Amafaranga | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Fah-Ran-Gah
I don’t have money: Nta amafaranga | How it sounds: Nta-Ma-Fah-Ran-Gah
How much does this cost? :Nangahe | How it sounds: Nahn-Gah-Hay
Where is the bank: Ibanki ni he he? | How it sounds: Ee-Bang-ki Ni Hay Hay
Where is the currency exchange?: Forex ni he he? | How it sounds: Forex Ni Hay Hay
Lower the price: Gabanya! |How it sounds: Gah-Bahn-Yah
That’s too much money: Ni menshi | How it sounds: Nee Men-Shee
That’s too expensive (referring to a service example Moto): Urahenda | How it sounds: Oo-Rah-Hen-Dah

Numbers

One: Rimwe | How it sounds: Reem-Way
Two: Kabiri | How it sounds: Kah-Bee-Ree
Three: Gatatu | How it sounds: Gah-Tah-Too
Four: Kane | How it sounds: Kah-Nay
Five: Gatanu | How it sounds: Gah-tah-new
Six: Gatandatu | How it sounds: Gah-Tahn-Dah-Too
Seven: Karindwi | How it sounds: Kah-Reen-Dwee
Eight: Umunane | How it sounds: Oo0Moo0Nah-Nay
Nine: Icyenda | How it sounds: Ee-Chee-En-Dah
Ten: Icumi | How it sounds: Ee-Choo-Mee
Twenty: makumyabiri | How it sounds: Mah-Koom-Yah-Bee-Ree
Twenty one: makumyabiri na rimwe | How it sounds: Mah-Koom-Yah-Bee-Ree Nah Reem-Way
Thirty: mirongo itatu | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Tah-Too
Thirty One: mirongo itatu na rimwe | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Tah-Too Nah Reem-Way
Forty: Mirongo ine | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Nay
Fifty: Mirongo itanu | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Tah-Noo
Sixty Mirongo itandatu | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Tahn-Dah-Too
Seventy: Mirongo irindwi | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Reend-Wee
Eighty: Mirongo inani | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Nah-Nee
Ninety: mirongo icyenda | How it sounds: Mee-Rohn-Goh Ee-Chen-Dah
One Hundred: Ijana | How it sounds: Ee-Jah-Nah
Two Hundred: Magana Abili | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nah Bee-Lee
Three Hundred: Magana Atatu | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nah Tah-Too
Four Hundred: Magana Ane | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nah Ah-Nay
Five Hundred: Magana Atanu | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nah Tah-New
Six Hundred: Magana Atandatu | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nah-Tahn-Dah-Too
Seven Hundred: Magana Alindwi | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nah Leend-Wee
Eight Hundred: Magana Inani | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nee-Nan-Ee
Nine Hundred: Magana Urwenda | How it sounds: Mah-Gah-Nah Oor-Gwen-Dah
One Thousand: Igihumbi | How it sounds: Ee-Gee-Hoom-Bee
One Thousand Five Hundred: Igihumbi na magana atanu | How it sounds: Ee-Gee-Hoom-Bee Nah Mah-Gah-Nah-Tah-Noo
Two Thousand: Ibihumbi Bibiri | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Hoom-Bee Bee-Bee-Ree
Two Thousand Five Hundred: Ibihumbi bibiri na magana atanu | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Hoom-Bee Bee-Bee-Ree Nah Mah-Gah-Nah-Tah-Noo
Five Thousand: Ibihumbi Bitanu | How it sounds: Ee-Bee-Hoom-Bee Bee-Tah-Noo

People

White person: Umuzungu | How it sounds: Oo-Moo-Zoon-Goo
White people: Abazungu | How it sounds: Ah-Bah-Zoon-Goo
Man: Umugabo | How it sounds: Oo-Moo-Gah-Boh
Woman: Umugore | How it sounds: Oo-Moo-Goh-Ray
Men: Abagabo | How it sounds: Ah-Bah-Gah-Boh
Women: Abagore | How it sounds: Ah-Bah-Goh-Ray
Girl: Umukoobwa | How it sounds: Oo-Moo-Kohb-Gah
Boy: Umuhuungu | How it sounds: Oo-Moo-Hoon-Goo
Friend: Inshuti | How it sounds: Een-Shoo-Tee
My friend: Inshuti wanjye | How it sounds: Een-Shoo-Tee Wahn-Jee-Yay
Children: Abana | How it sounds: Ah-Bah-Nah
Boys: Abahungu | How it sounds: Ah-Bah-Hoon-Goo
Girls: Abakobgwa | How it sounds: Ah-Bah-Kohb-Gah
Person: Umuntu | How it sounds: Oo-Moon-Too
People: Abantu | How it sounds: Ah-Bahn-Too

Health

Bandage: Igipfuko | How it sounds: Ee-Geep-Foo-Koh
Get better: Komera | How it sounds: Koh-Meh-Rah
Blood: Amaraso | How it sounds: Ah-Mah-Rah-Soh
Doctor: Muganga | How it sounds: Moo-Gahn-Gah
Health Center/ Hospital: Ivuriro | How it sounds: Ee-Voo-Reer-oh
I feel sick: Ndumva ndwaye | How it sounds: Ndoom-Vah Nd-Wah-Yay
I have a headache: Ndwaye umutwe | How it sounds: NDwah-Yay Oo-Moot-Way
I have a stomachache: Ndwaye munda | How it sounds: NDwah-Yay Moon-Dah
I have a toothache: Ndwaye iryinyo | How it sounds: NDwah-Yay Ee-Ryeen-Yoh
I have malaria: Ndwaye malariya | How it sounds: NDwah-Yay Mah-Lah-Ree-Yah
I want to go to the doctor: Nda shaka kujya kwa muganga | How it sounds: NDah-Shah-Kah Koo-Jee-Yah Kwah Moo-Gahn-Gah
Pharmacy: Farmasi | How it sounds: Far-Mah-See
To Be Sick: Kurwara | How it sounds: Koor-Wah-Rah
To Feel Dizzy: Kuzungera | How it sounds: Koo-Zoon-Gay-Rah
Where are you hurting?: Urababara he? | How it sounds: Oorah-Bah-Bah-Rah He