Learning Luo and Kiswahili in Sega

Our hosts in Kenya, the members of St. Anne’s Catholic Church Sega, did their best to introduce us to as many of their traditions and customs as possible. This also included teaching us Swahili and giving each of us Luo names.

Laura Atchiene

The term “Luo” determines both, an ethnic group located in Western Kenya, as well as this group’s cultural practices and language.

In addition to their regular first name, Luos use surnames according to their times of birth. For women, those are:

Assien = In the morning
Atchiene = during day time
Adhiambo = in the evening
Atieno = at night
Find a list of more Luo surnames here.

Since I was born around noon, my Luo name is Laura Atchiene. Sounds nice, huh?

Useful kiswahili word for cooking

Useful kiswahili words


Betty, a girl from Nairobi, who decided to join our workcamp group, is doing a great job teaching us Swahili. In return,we are teaching her the equivalent German phrases.

Swahili English German
Jambo! Hello Hallo.
Habari yaki? How are you? Wie geht es dir?
(Msuri) sana. (Very) good. (Sehr) gut.
Asante (sana). Thank you (very much). (Vielen) Dank!
Karibu! Welcome!

You’re welcome.


Gern geschehen.

Karibu chakula. Enjoy your meal. Guten Appetit.
It’s delicious. Ni tamo. Es schmeckt gut.
Hakuna matata! No worries! Kein Problem!
Kwaheri Good bye. Auf Wiedersehen.
Lala Salama Good night. Gute Nacht.

This is my favorite song to remember the most important phrases. My friends from Tanzania tought me the song when we met during the International Youth Weeks in Frankfurt.

For the Germans among my readers: “Reise Know-How. Kauderwelch. Kisuahili Wort für Wort” by Hartmut Fiebig is a great book to learn Swahili. My travel guide recommendation is “Reise Know-How. Kenia kompakt” by Hartmut Fiebig. It’s a brief (300 pocket-size pages) introduction into Kenya’s culture, language and valuable travel advices for the major touristic places.


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