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… ?

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14 thoughts on “Kinyarwanda: The Basics”

  1. Mutabazi Jacques

    Hello,i am still available for those who are interested in kinyarwanda lessons,i am a rwandan with 5 years ofexperience in teaching kinyarwanda to expats, i am professional and punctual .call jacques on 0785291363 to schedule your first lesson.!

    1. Would basic english/french be passable in Rwanda?

      I speak fluent english and understand basic French, Spanish, Hindi/Urdu..
      How difficult would daily communication be for me?

  2. You’ll be fine with English and basic French is a bonus, especially if you’ll be out of Kigali. But I get by fine with just English and terrible French.


    I am a Kinyarwanda teacher from Huye. I m a specialist in teaching methodology with more than 3 years experience of teaching expats. I am available. Please contact me on 0783121993/ 0785300077

  4. Would like to learn Kinyarwanda. Am Ugandan. Live in Ruyenzi, work in Kacyiru. Either early morning in Ruyenzi or luch hour in Kacyiru.

  5. For the time being…i’m living in Tanzania…but i relly wish to be an expert in speaking and using kinyarwanda…i just happen to love the language.
    I wonder if someone can give me a hand on that!!?

    1. Leopold Kayobotsi

      It is good, simple and possible. I can help you. I am a teacher by profession with 10 years of experience (A0 in Language teaching). Don’t hesitate to contact me on +250788214078/+250783280453.

  6. mbonizani irene

    i fell in love with kinyarwanda language n wish to learn it best.
    I welcm anyone willing to take me through

  7. Gilbert Ngabonzima


    I am an expert in teaching adults ( Andragogy), especially in Kinyarwanda as far as I have a certificate taken from Peace Corps/Rwanda training as I was a Peace Corps Language and Cross-Culture Facilitator within 3 years ( from 2009- to 2012). I had also language consultation with VSO people and OAF people. I basically deliver basic, intermediate and advanced Kinyarwanda, depending on your level of understanding. Most of the time, I am available at the weekends and my rates are 5000rwf per hour and per each. Once interested, please contact me on 0788553570 or

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