Posts Tagged With: WOTD

WOTD: Wokonza sinki

Chichewa word of the day: Wokonza sinki

Meaning: Plumber

As I search for a good, reliable plumber to do some odd jobs around my house in the UK, I remembered a funny story from my Malawi days; which seems like a distant memory now, regrettably.

As you do, when you need some plumbing work that you can’t do yourself done, I asked around for a good pumber in Lilongwe. Starting with the national staff at the VSO Malawi office. I was surprised to be greeted with blank, somewhat confused faces. I thought to myself: Are there no plumbers at all in Lilongwe?

But after a few tries, a colleague responded: Oh, a plum-ber!

Little did I know that it is pronounced like this 😀

All part of my experiential learning curve with Malawian culture and the phonetic Malawian English.

PS. My grandpa always encouraged me to write more about my Malawi experience. After a long hiatus, I will try to continue, and wrap this blog up for good properly one day. Until then, this is for you Ah Yia!

Categories: Malawi, Volunteering, VSO | Tags: , | Leave a comment

WOTD: Mtengo

Chichewa word of the day: Mtengo

Meaning: Tree

Just before I left Malawi, another volunteer, Catherine, moved into the other VSO house, 2 doors down from mine and Robin‘s place.

One of the very large trees in her garden has just been chopped down, Malawian style! Visit her blog post here.

Equipped only with a panga knife. Not even a rope.

Equipped only with a panga knife. Not even a rope.

That's seriously high!

That’s seriously high!

Categories: Malawi, Volunteering, VSO | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

WOTD: Mtanthauziramawu

Chichewa word of the day: 1.mtanthauziramawu\mi-; 2.dikishonale\ma- (Chingerezi); 

Meaning: Dictionary

Sorry I haven’t posted a word of the day or about the kids for a while. So this is two birds with one stone!

I mentioned in my previous post that the Area 11 Breakfast Club was lucky enough to be awarded funding from FOMA and that some of the funds have been used to purchase dictionaries for the kids.

Well, on Saturday after breakfast, we used the Chichewa Dictionaries for the first time! “First time” is more poignant that it sounds because for the kids, it really was their first time to use a dictionary, ever. Using a calculator, reading a map and knowing where most countries are*… these are example of skills which we “first-worlders” take for granted because it was an integral part of our education.

*My own night-guard still thinks I’m Japanese (Ok, my German first name doesn’t help!). Because to him, there are only JICA volunteers but no Chinese ones that he’s seen or heard of in Malawi. Just to really push this point home, when we bought a new combination padlock for our outside storage room and I told him the combination so he and others can access it for tools, he looked at me blankly. Because he had never seen a padlock with no key!

Anyway, I explained the 2 (Chichewa to English and English to Chichewa) sections of the dictionary and the objective of the exercise (find the word on the whiteboard and write down the Chichewa or English meaning), at least twice. Some of the kids understood it, which was great. “It” being how the dictionary is sorted in alphabetical order. First by the first letter, then second etc. But some kids, as I discovered mid-way through the exercise, did not. They were just turning every page in search of the word!

This turned out to be a much more difficult (and fun) exercise than I expected. I was left very exhausted to be honest but will definitely do it again.

Thank you to Dr Steven Paas, the author of the dictionary, for allowing us to participate in the Free Distribution Programme, which is normally reserved for much bigger quantities and, of course, for writing the dictionary in the first place!

Class time!

Class time!



Categories: Malawi, Volunteering, VSO | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WOTD: Njinga ya moto

Chichewa word of the day: Njinga ya moto

Meaning: Motorbike / motorcycle

Semantics: “Njinga” means bike, as in a bicycle or push bike. “Moto” means fire.

Since coming out to Malawi, I’ve been surprised by how little I miss material things from home (UK or Hong Kong). For example, my television. There is one exception… my motorbike.

I (used to) ride a Honda CBR 600 F-Sport, also known as the F4i. It was my pride and joy. It still is since I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. I even contemplated shipping it over but thought better of it over concerns on cost, safety on Malawi roads and it’s rather against the spirit of volunteering here!

Despite the storm which is currently uprooting trees all over Lilongwe. The rather shaky Internet in Malawi is actually quite fast today.

So, enjoy… the sights and sounds of my next bikes… someday! For now, I have to just cling on to my #46 Valentino Rossi t-shirt and Dainese jacket as if I’m still a rider!

You can see more speed things on my Pinterest board.

MV Agusta F4 Senna Edition

MV Agusta F4 Senna Edition

Categories: Malawi, Motorbikes, Volunteering, VSO | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WOTD: Mkaka

Chichewa word of the day: Mkaka

Meaning: Milk

Our Vinny's version of the Got Milk advertisement

Our Vinny’s version of the Got Milk advertisement

Categories: Malawi, Volunteering, VSO | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: