I don’t really want to be transformed into a four legged braying work animal but I have recently learned that there is Hausa phrase for foreigners who are fluent in Hausa; this being, “Ya iya Hausa kamar jakin Kano” which literatly translates to “he speaks Hausa like a Kano donkey.” Owing to the fact that ever since my arrival in Abuja I have on numerous occasions (at least six times in one day!) been addressed/spoken to in Hausa by many who have mistakenly identified me as a Hausa speaking Fulani woman I have decided to learn Hausa.
The security guard at work has kindly agreed to teach me a phrase a day. It is going well and I am further encouraged by two things. Firstly, there is no greater honour that can be extended to a visitor than treating him/her as if he/she was not a visitor. The least I can do to show my gratitude is to take steps to integrate with the people of my host nation and though there are over 200 hundred languages spoken in Nigeria I should not let this deter me from learning at least one before I leave. Secondly it has been brought to my attention that there are Hausa words that are similar to those that I am already familiar with as a result of my knowledge of (dare I say fluency in) Kiswahili. I feel like the battle is half won so why not go all the way?
So for anyone else who wants to join me in quest to become a Kano donkey; here is a list of English words with their Hausa and Kiswahili translations and who knows maybe there shall be an all Hausa blog soon.
- Twenty = Ashirin (Hausa); Ishirini (Kiswahili)
- Thirty = Talatin (Hausa); Thelathini (Kiswahili)
- Forty = Arbain (Hausa); Arbaini (Kiswahili)
- Fifty = Hamsin (Hausa); Hamsini (Kiswahili)
- Sixty= Sittin (Hausa); Sitini (Kiswahili)
- Thursday = Alhamis (Hausa); Alhamisi (Kiswahili)