Meet young Mzungu who speaks better Swahili than most Nairobians – Video
Kai Vogt draws weird stares when he speaks in fluent Swahili to matatu crews or when he is reading a copy of Taifa Leo newspaper
“I was once walking at the KU (Kenyatta University) flyover when a group of girls giggled behind me and one said she would like to get married to a mzungu. I turned back and told her, Naweza kukuoa, baba yako anataka ng’ombe wangapi?” he recalls laughingly.
The girls froze in shock and Kai walked straight on. He was in a hurry to get to work at the Taifa Leo newspaper where he worked as an online intern.
“Some (matatu passengers) look at the newspaper am reading then back at me thinking that I am just showing off. They often ask if I understand what I am reading and when I say I do they stare in disbelief,” he added.
Kai Vogt is an Anglo-Dutch who was born in Sudan and has developed a mastery of Hausa, Swahili, German, English and French languages.
He was born in Khartoum where his parents worked with a non-governmental organization.
The 21-year-old United Kingdom student is pursuing a joint honors degree in international development and Kiswahili at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
LOVE FOR LANGUAGE
He has been in Kenya for the last three months on an exchange program with Kenyatta University, after a similar stint at the State University of Zanzibar.
The weird stares he sees when talking to people in Kiswahili is what fuels his love for the language.
His journey to becoming a master of languages started after his nomadic relocated to Niger from Sudan. It is there where he learned the Hausa language just to get along with friends and neighbours.
Kai then developed an interest in Kiswahili when his parents moved from to Tanzania. The difficulty to understand what people spoke is what drove him to learn the language.
The first born in a family of two boys and one girl has been an intern at the Nation Media Group for two months working for the Swahili website www.swahilihub.com.
His experiences in Nairobi can make for a good travel book. In one instance when commuting from Kenyatta University to the city centre, a matatu conductor attempted to overcharge him thinking he does not understand the Kenyan currency.
“I once boarded a matatu that the crew was charging 50 shillings to town but when he started collecting fares he asked me for 150 shillings. I told him in Kiswahili that I knew he was charging a lesser amount and he was embarrassed,” said Kai.
He admits that people in Zanzibar are better speakers of Kiswahili than Kenyans and that there is a difference between the two dialects.
“When I was leaving Zanzibar to come to Kenya, they even asked me how I could study Kiswahili here. They said Kenyans don’t speak Swahili,” he said.
The third year student is set to complete his degree next year in the UK and hopes to engage in development work in Africa just like his parents who are currently in Morogoro, Tanzania.