As you walk down the road, your conversations will go like this:
You will hear (shouted at you) – “Jambo!” (Hello)
You reply – “Jambo!”
”Habari?” (what is the news or how are you?)
”Nzuri” (I am fine)
You usually hear “Karibu” (you are welcome here) sometimes the name of the village is said as well. I often heard “Karibu Jmbiani.”
Always reply “Asante Sana!” (Thank You very much)
Sometimes after you have spoken to someone a little longer or purchased something from them you will be called “Rafiki” which means friend. This is heart felt and you rarely hear it unless you have become friends – in the village.
If the word “Rafiki” is shouted at you as a greeting – they are trying to sell you something, usually in Stone Town.
A Few Basics Words/Phrases:
Yes = Ndiyo
No = Hapana
Okay = Sawa
Maybe = Labda
How are you? = Habari Yako?
Good = Nzuri
Thank you = Asante
Hello = Jambo
I am fine = Sijambo
Please = Tafadhali (the dh is pronounced like a th)
Goodbye = Kwaheri
What is your name? = Jina lako ni nani?
My name is ...= Jina langu ni ...
I don't speak Swahili = Sisemi Kiswahili
Bia = Beer
Bia baridi = Cold beer
Daktari = Doctor
Duka = Shop
Hakuna matata No problem
A young person to an older one: "Shikamoo!" (originally it meant "I touch your feet" as a sign of respect) and the greeted answers, "Marahabaa!" (I acknowledge your respect!).
*** Please note that as this is a Muslim Country – never greet a woman in conversation outside. You may respond if they greet you first. ***
During my stay in Jambiani Village I kept seeing kids playing with old bicycle tyres rims. They would use a good stick and propel the tyre along the road at great speed with the stick pushing along the groove. Not only is this not easy to do – these kids were amazing fast. If you think its easy – give it a try.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS FOR BUDGET TRAVELLERS, NOT SOMETHING AGAINST LOCAL PEOPLE. You have to haggle EVERY price in Zanzibar, except some restaurants. So, you can play the money trick to make sure you always get a good price. Tanzanian Schillings are weak against the U.S. Dollar, which everyone will take. Make sure you take some single $1 notes for emergencies. You get about 1100 to 1200 Schillings to 1 dollar. Agree a price and take in units of 1’s so it sound like you mean dollars. Some people will even say $1 or 1000 Schillings. They would say 10 meaning 10,000 Schillings. Schillings are cheaper for you. Go to any good exchange in Stone Town have some Schillings with you when you haggle. You agree ‘10’, hand over 10,000 Schillings, not $10. Too late, they know you know and they have just given you a 10-20% discount! I did this with a hotel and agreed ‘30’. I saved $10 over a 3 night stay. It makes your money stretch! You can also agree the price, leave to get Schillings and come back. The deal has already been done. Remember – if you do agree a deal, you have to stick with it. Negotiations are much more intense in Stone Town. In Jambiani, it is very relaxed, so take it easy.
***PLEASE NOTE ** Watch out for anyone trying to agree Kenyan Schillings, they are much more valuable than Tanzanian and only con artists would say this. $1 only gets you about 69 Kenyan Schillings. So 10,000 Kenyan Schillings would be $143!