Tag Archives: Kiswahili

Saa ngapi (What time is it)?

Saa mbili na nusu. Literally this means: Hour two and a half, so one would say the time is 2.30, right? No! Swahili time is different from English time. In Tanzania they start counting the hours after the moment the sun rises which is on average 6 am each day. This means that 7 am in Swahili time is 1 o’clock. When making appointments with Tanzanians, be sure to check whether they mean English or Swahili time. To make it even more complicated, the division between am and pm is also not as straightforward as one might think. The following words should be added for this distinction: Alfajiri (4am-5am), asubuhi (6am-12pm), mchana (12pm-3pm), jioni (4pm-7pm), usiku (8pm-3am). So do you know what time you should be ready when the taxi driver says he will pick you up at “saa mbili na nusu, asubuhi”?

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