Nairobi News


Which is correct, Kenya’s ‘Lipa na M-Pesa’ or Tanzania’s ‘Lipa kwa M-Pesa’?

A simple mobile money transfer signage has opened debate on the differences between Swahili spoken in Kenya and Tanzania.

So here is the question. Did Safaricom get it wrong when they said Lipa na M-Pesa? Well, Tanzanians seem to think so. In Tanzania you are told to Lipa kwa M-Pesa.

The signage telling customers in Tanzania to lipa kwa has had many people asking who is correct between the two countries.

According to Taifa Leo editor Juma Namlola, Kenyans do not like to use the proper terminologies and vocabulary especially when speaking in Swahili.

“The two, na and kwa, are used differently and also on different occasions. Grammatically kwa is the correct word to use,” said Namlola.

He gave an example of how Kenyans like to use the word na in almost every conversation. Nilikula kuku na ugali, which he says is wrong same as saying nilienda nyumbani na matatu. This comes to what you did and used at the time, according to Namlola.

In the above two examples, he said one should use kwa instead of na.

“When you say Nilikula kuku na ugali, it literally means that the kuku (chicken) accompanied you to the restaurant,” he says.

But do all Kenyans agree? Here are some of their sentiments in the ongoing conversation on social media.