Kinyarwanda: The Basics

Kinyarwandan Lessons

I’ve been here for months and my Kinyarwanda skills don’t extend beyond ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ (which I always get mixed up anyways) and a mangled version of ‘good night’. Throw in ‘thank you’ and the vastly different ‘thank you very much’ and I can say a pitiful five things. Lame.

I have a feeling a lot of new arrivals are in the same boat as me, having heard that the language is difficult and not knowing whether its worth the effort to learn anything beyond the basics. So we’ve enlisted the help of Jacques, a Kigali-based Kinyarwanda teacher extraordinaire to help give new arrivals and old Kigali expats alike a start in the language. We’re going to start with some basics and then branch out a bit in future posts.

English Kinyarwanda Phonetic
hello muraho mor-AH-ho
good morning mwaramutse MWA-ra-MOO-tsay
good afternoon mwiriwe MEE-ree-way
good night muramuke
goodbye murabeho
thank you murakoze moo-RAH-coh-zay
yes yego YAY-go
no oya OY-a
who nde/indue
what iki
where hehe
why kuki/kuberiki
when ryari
how gute
How are you? Amakuru?
I’m fine. nimeza
What’s your name? Witwa nde?
My name is… Nitwa…
Where are you from? Uvuka he?
I am from… Mvuka…
Where do you live? Utuye he?
I live… Ntuye…
Do you understand? Urumva?
I don’t understand. Sinumva.
Help me. Mfasha.
Do you have… ? Unite… ?

About Jacques

Jacques is from Kigali and has been teaching Kinyarwanda to expats for a year and a half. He is able to give lessons in your home and his schedule is flexible. If you’re interested in learning Kinyarwanda, give Jacques a call on 0785291363 or email him at mutajacques@yahoo.fr. Lessons cost Rwf 3,000 per hour or call to enquire group discounts. Jacques will have you communicating in Kinyarwanda in no time!