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Swahili Time

Tanzanian baby and big sister

People in Tanzania have two ways of telling time. Many follow the same system of telling time that people use in the United States. They call it “English time.”

But some Tanzanians go by “Swahili time.” Tanzania is near the equator, so days and nights are about 12 hours long all year around. In Swahili time, days start at 6 a.m. English time (sunrise), and nights begin at 6 p.m. English time (sunset). So at 7 a.m. English time, it is 1 a.m. Swahli time.

The first time in each pair below is “English time.” The second tells what time it would be in Swahili time.

6 a.m. 12 a.m. (sunrise)
8 a.m. 2 a.m. (2 hours after sunrise)
12 p.m., noon. 6 a.m. (6 hours after sunrise)
3 p.m. 9 a.m. (9 hours after sunrise)
6 p.m. 12 p.m. (sunset)
7 p.m. 1 p.m. (1 hour after sunset)
12 a.m., midnight. 6 p.m. (6 hours after sunset)

To Think About
• Why are days and nights about 12 hours each in locations close to the equator?
• Farther from the equator, the times of sunrise and sunset vary between winter and summer months. Why would it be harder to use Swahili time in places far from the equator?
• People who live by Swahili time think it is strange that the day starts at 12 a.m. in English time. So midnight is morning, even though people are in bed. What do you think?

Try This
At 9 a.m. English time, it would be 3 a.m. in Swahili time. Children in Tanzania might be going to school. Answer the questions below, then pray for the children and for what activity they might be doing at that time.

At 11 a.m. English time, it is 5 a.m. Swahili time. What might children in Tanzania be doing at that time?

At 1 p.m. English time, what time would it be in Swahili time?
At 4 p.m. English time, what time is it in Swahili time?
At 2 p.m. Swahili time, what time would it be in English time?


Tanzania and Swahili

Tanzania Sunday school

About 46 percent of the people in Tanzania are Christians, and about 37 percent are Muslims. Others follow tribal religions. The Bible has not yet been translated into the languages of some Tanzanian tribes.

Growing Conflict
Some radical Muslims give Christians a hard time. Radical Islam is spreading from northern Africa into Tanzania. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.)

On the island of Zanzibar where most of the people are Muslims, Christians have faced persecution for a long time. People who leave Islam to follow Jesus sometimes have to flee their homes when family members kick them out.

But in recent times, Christians on the mainland of Tanzania are having the same kinds of problems. Riots have broken out in some places, and churches have been burned.

Swahili, also called Kiswahili, is the main language of Tanzania.

Learn Some Swahili Words
(Pronunciations are approximate.)

The first word in each group below is the English word, and the second is the Swahili word. The third part tells how to pronounce the Swahili word.

Hello. Jambo. JAHM-boh
Yes. Ndiyo. Uhn-DEE-yoh
No. Hapana. Hah-PAH-nah
Please. Tafadhali. TAH-fuh-DAH-lee
Thank you very much. Asante sana. Uh-SAHN-teh SAH-nuh


Zanzibar: Harsh Treatment for Christian Kids

Tanzania is on the coast of East Africa. On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar where most of the people are Muslims, Christians have faced persecution for a long time.

Workers from The Voice of the Martyrs recently encouraged Christians from Zanzibar. The workers learned more about the struggles faced by the Christians’ children. Read below what one of the workers said.

Islamic Classes for Christian Students
The Zanzibar government requires that every public school teach Arabic and Islamic studies. [Islam is the religion of Muslims.] Every student must pass exams on Arabic and Islam. If they fail either exam, the students will not be allowed to graduate.

[The official language of Tanzania is Swahili, but many people also speak Arabic. Muslims believe that the true meaning of the Quran can be fully learned only in Arabic. The Quran is the Muslim holy book.]

Free to Be Bullies
Teachers are also encouraged to single out Christian students with harsh discipline and constant rebuke of their beliefs. They are discouraged from punishing Muslim students who harass their Christian peers. One Christian told us the story of his elementary-age son. The boy is one of only two Christians in his entire school. One day a group of Muslim boys locked him in the outhouse [outdoor toilet] for hours. Not even a word was spoken to reprimand the Muslim boys.

Tanzania Sunday school

(Source: VOM contacts. Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)


Sunday School Around the World: Tanzania

 

Persecution
Tanzania is on the coast of East Africa. Radical Islam is spreading from northern Africa into Tanzania. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar where most of the people are Muslims, Christians have faced persecution for a long time. People who leave Islam to follow Jesus sometimes have to flee their homes when family members kick them out.

But in recent times, Christians on the mainland of Tanzania have started having the same kinds of problems. Riots have broken out in some places, and churches have been burned.

Tanzania

Fact: Click Languages
Hadza and Sandawe are two of the many click languages of Africa. The languages use click sounds as consonants. Click noises can sound like the “tsk tsk” used by English to say, “What a shame,” or “I don’t approve of that.” Other click noises are like the clip clop sound made to sound like a horse trotting. Fewer and fewer people in Africa are speaking click languages, and some of the languages are already extinct.

Bibles
The Bible has not yet been translated into the languages of some Tanzanian tribes. The Tanzanian Sunday school children in the photo are looking at a children’s Bible in their language provided by The Voice of the Martyrs.


Tanzania Squash Craft

 

A calabash is the gourd or gourd-like fruit of various plants. Some people in Tanzania and other African countries make bottles or containers, or even musical instruments out of calabashes. Some even use dried, hollowed-out calabashes as motorcycle helmets.

To Try
You can make a vase out of a butternut squash. Ask an adult to cut the top off the smaller end. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides about halfway down the squash. Add artificial flowers.

Christians in Tanzania
Life can be dangerous for followers of Jesus in Muslim Tanzania. People who leave Islam to become Christians often have to go into hiding to escape threats and persecution. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.)

Enter “Tanzania” into the Search box to find stories of bold Christians in Tanzania.