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Mimi Natenka Kudenko…Swahili for I love You?

417iEXz6j+L I am currently reading a novel Harvesting The Heart by Jodi Picoult (A New York best seller author) in which her protagonist Paige is talking to another character Nick that she is beginning to have a stir in her bosom for. She tells him…”I know how to say I love you in ten languages. Mimi natenka kudenko. I said it in Swahili just to prove it”….Picoult is an accomplished writer…has written four other novels and was awarded the New England Award in 2003.

I was taken aback by that Swahili there and wondered who her translator was. The mimi, is right and correct Swahili for Me. Natenka, hubby and I assumed, is nataka. Now kudenko becomes interesting because it can be subject to different approximations of words in swahili that are said in times of amor! I can think of one in Kimara but which would mean what you do after saying I love you properly…kukundeko!

I am afraid she may have fallen victim to a prankster, some of who deliberately give you translations to simple, nice greetings, making them mean something abominable, then they stand aside and watch you say it to someone, whose facial expression in response is…priceless! Am I right or am I right?…Because I want to let her know that while enjoying her novel thoroughly, I found my national language massacred to death! Ama she was not writing for a Swahili audience and so just used bunga bunga language…Hahaha!.. that has no meaning really…which then does not fit in with the rather serious tone of her story!

I would be interested to hear what others may have to say on this! And Oh!…Mimi Nakupenda (I love you in Swahili)!

©njeriOsaak is a trained journalist, a Public Relations professional and a College Speech Communication teacher, currently based in the United States.

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