Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Useful Swahili Greetings and Salutations

The first thing you would want to know when traveling to a new country or place is its language and culture.

The step consists of learning basic salutations and greetings that allow one to fit in and live in harmony with the locals.

For instance, as a tourist planning a trip to Kenya or anywhere in East Africa, you will realize that greetings form an integral part of the Swahili language.

Salutations also keep the conversation interesting, which can go on for minutes or hours.

 Therefore, if you want to start conversing with your Swahili friend, here are the useful Swahili greetings and salutations to master.

How to say “Hello” in Swahili

  • Hello – Habari or mambo. Habari is a formal greeting, while mambo is an informal greeting, mostly common between friends and relatives. A younger person can also say shikamoo when greeting an elder.
  • Hi – This means the same as “hello” where you can say habari or mambo. Though, it is common among friends.
  • Good morning – Habari ya asubuhi.
  • Good evening – Habari ya jioni.
  • Good afternoon – Habari ya mchana.
  • Enjoy the rest of your afternoon! – Furahia mchana wako. You can also say Kuwa na mchana mwema to mean “Have a good day”.
  • Good night – Usiku mwema
  • Enjoy the rest of your night – Furahia usiku wako. Saying Kuwa na usiku mwema to mean “have a good night” is also acceptable.
  • Hey there! – Vipi hapo! Some people also say hey hapo, though it is not a formal greeting.
  • What’s up? – Kuna nini?
  • How are you? (informal) – Uko aje? It is also right to say Hujambo, U hali gani, or uko vipi when concerned about someone’s condition.
  • Are you okay? – Uko sawa?
  • How was your day? – Siku yako imekuwaje?

How to say “Goodbye” in Swahili

  • Bye – Kwaheri. Used mostly informally between close friends or relatives.
  • Goodbye – Kwaheri. This is a formal parting expression.
  • “Later!” – Baadaye!
  • See you later – Tuonane baadaye.
  • See you soon – Tuonane or tutaonana hivi karibuni.
  • See you in a while! – Tuonane or tutaonana muda sio mrefu.
  • I’m sorry, but I have to go – Pole ila inabidi niende.
  • I will see you tomorrow! – Nitakuona kesho!
  • Enjoy the rest of your day!”- Furahia siku yako!
  • God bless you – Mungu akubariki.
  • Good day – Siku njema.
  • Let us meet tomorrow – Tukutane kesho.
  • Have a safe journey – Safiri salama or Kuwa na safari njema.

Other Useful Swahili Phrases to Use During Conversation

  • Sir/Madam – Bwana/Bibi. Others also say bibie for madam.
  • How are you? – U hali gani or mhali gani for more than one person.
  • How are things? – Kila kitu kiko vipi? Other people also say Mambo vipi to mean the same thing.
  • Are you feeling well? – Unahisi vizuri/vyema?
  • Are you doing well? – Unaendelea vizuri/vyema?
  • What’s new? – Lipi jipya? You will also hear friends asking each other, mageni?
  • It’s good to see you – Ni vizuri kukuona.
  • It’s a pleasure to meet you – Ni vyema kukutana na wewe. You can also say Ni furaha kukutana na wewe
  • I’m not doing well – Sipo salama/ vyema. You can as well say siendelei vyema.
  • I’m well, thanks – Nipo salama/ vyema, nashukuru.
  • I am fine, thanks – Nipo vizuri, nashukuru. It is also correct to say Sijambo, especially when asked “How are you?”
  • Nice to meet you! – Vyema kukutana na wewe.
  • What is your name? – Jina lako nani or unaitwa nani.
  • What’s happening? – Nini inafanyika or kipi kinafanyika?
  • Hey beautiful Vipi mrembo or hey mrembo.
  • I’m fine – Nipo vyema/vizuri.
  • It’s been a while- Umekuwa muda
  • Everything is going fine – Kila kitu kinaendelea vizuri.
  • You’re welcome – Karibu
  • Excuse me – Samahani.
  • Thank you! – Ahsante!
  • “OK” – Sawa.
  • Please – Tafadhali

Seasonal Greetings

  • Merry Christmas! – Heri ya Krismasi or Krismasi yenye heri njema.
  • Happy Easter! – Pasaka njema, heri za Pasaka, or Pasaka yenye furaha.
  • Happy New Year! Mwaka mpya wa heri njema or heri ya mwaka mpya.
  • Happy birthday! Heri ya kuzaliwa. You can also say Heri ya siku yako ya kuzaliwa.
  • Season’s Greetings! – Salamu za msimu (huu/ujao)
  • Happy holiday! – Likizo yenye furaha or likizo njema.

Rules for Swahili Greetings

Swahili is one of the easiest languages to speak. This is because most Swahili greetings are pronounced the same way they are written, with the only change appearing on the second last syllable.

For instance, when pronouncing “nzuri”, the second last syllable “zu” is pronounced as “zoo”, and the greeting will sound like “nZOOree”.

That, however, is not of much focus when greeting someone in Swahili.

 Instead, Swahili greetings are built on three pillars; age, context, and season.

Regarding age, most greetings are initiated by younger people to elders, and they are often pronounced politely and with humility. Though, older people can also greet younger people.

Regarding context, Swahili greetings are either formal or informal.

Formal greetings are used between people of different ages, professional levels, or social influence. For example, between employers and employees, parents and their children, or mentors and their students.

Contrary, informal greetings are common among friends, close relatives, or even people with close work or social relationships.


Are you planning to visit Kenya or Tanzania and worried about how to fit into the East African culture?

Why not equip yourself with the above Swahili greetings and salutations first?

Remember, learning about basic Swahili greetings is not a matter of luxury.

 It allows you to interact, converse, and live in peace in a land where everyone values social respect regardless of their age or status.

Also check:

Swahili Love Messages: Here Is How to Express Love in Kiswahili

List Of Powerful Swahili Curse Words and When to Use Them 

Kenyalogue Contributor


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