When I realized I would be going back to Malawi, I immediately pulled out my trusty “Tiyeni! (Let’s Go!)” language manual and got to work improving my paltry understanding of Chichewa. Much to my surprise, this was a relatively fruitless endeavor. Not only because it is darn hard to learn a language without having people speak it around you every day, but also because people in Karonga District (where I will be working) speak Tumbuka (Chitumbuka), not Chewa (Chichewa).
I have a feeling I am going to need to learn the Tumbuka equivalent of “sindikumva” (I don’t understand) and “pang’ono pang’ono” (slowly, slowly). Any hints?