Learn These Unique Tools in Swahili and Their Uses

October 22, 2023 No Comments
Tools in Swahili

Exploring how different cultures and languages describe their tools in conversation is often fascinating. We’ve taken a trip into the Swahili language to uncover the meanings and usage of various tools commonly found in many parts of the world. The Swahili language brings a unique perspective to tools and their functions. 

Here, we’ve provided the different tools in Swahili and their uses in Swahili to showcase their practical use in both language and action. Whether you’re a language enthusiast or simply curious about how tools are described in different corners of the globe, this article teaches you everything you need to know.

Different Tools in Swahili and Their Uses

Hammer (Nyundo)

A hammer, or “nyundo” in Swahili, is a tool typically made of metal and wood, used to deliver a forceful blow to an object. It’s commonly used to drive nails into surfaces, break objects, or shape materials.

Example in a sentence

I used the hammer (Nyundo) to drive the nails into the wooden plank for the new bookshelf.

Nilitumia nyundo (hammer) kuweka misumari kwenye ubao wa mbao kwa ajili ya rafu mpya.

Tools in Swahili: Screwdriver (Bisibisi)

A screwdriver, known as “bisibisi” in Swahili, is a hand tool designed for turning screws. It consists of a handle and a shaft with a blade or tip, often with a magnetic feature to hold screws in place.

Example in a sentence 

I needed the screwdriver (Bisibisi) to assemble the furniture, ensuring that all the screws were securely in place.

Nilihitaji bisibisi (screwdriver) kuunganisha samani, kuhakikisha kwamba visu vyote vilikuwa vimefungwa kwa usalama.

Pliers (Koleo)

Tools in Swahili

Pliers, or “koleo” in Swahili, are hand tools with two hinged arms and serrated jaws for gripping, bending, and cutting objects. They come in various types, including needle-nose pliers and side-cutting pliers.

Example in a sentence 

The electrician used pliers (Koleo) to twist and secure the wires in the electrical panel.

Fundi wa umeme alitumia koleo (pliers) kuunganisha na kufunga nyaya kwenye paneli ya umeme.

Tools in Swahili: Saw (Msumeno)

A saw, or “msumeno” in Swahili, is a cutting tool with a serrated blade used for cutting through materials such as wood, metal, or plastic. It operates by moving the blade back and forth across the material.

Example in a sentence

He used the saw (Msumeno) to trim the wooden planks for the new fence, ensuring a precise fit.

Aliutumia msumeno (saw) kupunguza vipande vya mbao kwa uzio mpya, kuhakikisha kuwa vinakaa vizuri.

Drill (Keekee)

A drill, referred to as “keekee” in Swahili, is a power tool used to create holes in various materials. It operates by spinning a drill bit, which punctures the material through rotation.

Example in a sentence

The carpenter used the drill (Keekee) to make holes for the screws when constructing the bookshelves.

Seremala alitumia keekee (drill) kutoboa matundu kwa ajili ya visu alipokuwa anajenga rafu za vitabu.

Tools in Swahili: Chisel (Patasi)

A chisel, known as “patasi” in Swahili, is a cutting tool with a sharp blade at one end and a handle at the other. It’s primarily used for carving, shaping, and cutting hard materials like wood or stone.

Example in a sentence

The sculptor employed a chisel (Patasi) to carve intricate patterns into the marble statue delicately.

Msanii wa kuchonga alitumia patasi (chisel) kuchonga kwa uangalifu miundo ya kuvutia kwenye sanamu ya marumaru.

Nail (Msumari)

Tools in Swahili

A nail, or “msumari” in Swahili, is a small, pointed metal pin used for fastening or joining materials together. Nails are hammered into surfaces and provide strong and durable connections.

Example in a sentence

She used a hammer (Nyundo) to drive the nail (Msumari) through the shingle into the roof’s wooden frame, securing it in place.

Alitumia nyundo (hammer) kuweka msumari (nail) kupitia bati kwenye fremu ya mbao ya dari ili kuufunga mahali pazuri.

Tools in Swahili: Rake (Reki)

A rake, known as “reki” in Swahili, is a garden tool consisting of a long handle and a row of metal or wooden tines or teeth. Rakes are designed for tasks such as gathering leaves, grass, or other garden debris, as well as leveling the soil.

Example in a sentence 

I used the rake (Reki) to collect fallen leaves from the garden, making it tidy and ready for planting.

Nilitumia reki (rake) kukusanya majani yaliyoanguka kwenye bustani, kuifanya iwe safi na tayari kwa kupanda.

Bolt (Bolti)

A bolt, referred to as “bolti” in Swahili, is a threaded fastener used to join objects together. Bolts typically have a head at one end and a threaded body, and they are secured with nuts. They provide a strong and reliable connection.

Example in a sentence 

The mechanic used a bolt (Bolti) and a nut to attach the car’s wheel to the axle securely.

Mfundi wa magari alitumia bolti (bolt) na nati (nut) kuifunga kwa usalama gurudumu la gari kwenye mhimili.

Tools in Swahili: Ladder (Ngazi)

A ladder, or “ngazi” in Swahili, is a portable device consisting of a series of rungs or steps that allows individuals to reach heights or access elevated areas. Ladders come in various types, including step ladders and extension ladders.

Example in a sentence 

The painter used a ladder (Ngazi) to reach the high ceiling and apply a fresh coat of paint.

Mpiga rangi alitumia ngazi (ladder) kufikia dari kubwa na kuweka safu mpya ya rangi.

Glue (Gundi)

Glue, known as “gundi” in Swahili, is a sticky substance used to join materials together by forming a strong adhesive bond. It is widely used in crafting, woodworking, and general repairs.

Example in a sentence

I applied glue (Gundi) to the broken pieces of the vase and carefully held them together until it dried and mended.

Nilisambaza gundi (glue) kwenye vipande vilivyovunjika vya chungu na kuvishikilia kwa uangalifu hadi ikakauka na kurekebisha.

Tools in Swahili: Shovel (Sepeto)

Tools in Swahili

A shovel, referred to as “sepeto” in Swahili, is a digging tool with a blade or scoop at the end of a handle. Shovels are used for digging, lifting, and moving materials such as soil, sand, or snow.

Example in a sentence

I used the shovel (Sepeto) to clear the snow from the driveway after the winter storm had passed.

Nilitumia sepeto (shovel) kusafisha theluji kwenye njia ya kuingia baada ya dhoruba ya baridi kupita.

Tape Measure (Kipimo cha Mkanda)

A tape measure, or “kipimo cha mkanda” in Swahili, is a flexible and retractable measuring tool for taking precise length or distance measurements. It typically consists of a long, slender strip of material marked with units of measurement and a mechanism for winding it back into its case.

Example in a sentence

Mfanyakazi wa ujenzi alitumia kipimo cha mkanda (tape measure) kupima urefu wa bati iliyohitajika kwa paa jipya.

The construction worker used a tape measure to measure the length of the metal sheets needed for the new roof.

Tools in Swahili: Tool Box (Sanduku la Vifaa)

A toolbox, known as “sanduku la vifaa” in Swahili, is a container or storage unit designed to hold and organize various tools and equipment. It is an essential item for professionals and DIY enthusiasts to keep their equipment organized and easily accessible.

Example in a sentence

Fundi wa umeme daima hufanya kazi na sanduku lake la vifaa (tool box) ili kuwa na vifaa vya umeme wakati wowote anapohitaji.

English Translation 

The electrician always works with his toolbox to have electrical tools ready whenever needed.

Flashlight (Tochi)

A flashlight, referred to as “tochi” in Swahili, is a portable hand-held device that produces a focused beam of light. It is commonly used for illumination in dark or low-light situations and is powered by batteries or rechargeable cells.

Example in a sentence

Wakati umeme ulipokatika ghafla, nilitumia tochi (flashlight) kuangaza chumba hadi umeme urudi.

When the power suddenly went out, I used a flashlight to illuminate the room until the electricity came back.

Tools in Swahili: Hoe (Jembe)

A hoe, known as “jembe” in Swahili, is a hand tool with a flat, blade-like head used for digging, weeding, and cultivating soil. It is a vital tool in gardening and farming for preparing the ground for planting.

Example in a sentence

Wakulima walitumia jembe (hoe) kupalilia shamba la mahindi kabla ya kupanda mbegu.

The farmers used hoes to weed the cornfield before planting the seeds.

Tools in Swahili:  Axe (Shoka)

Tools in Swahili

An axe, “shoka” in Swahili, is a cutting and chopping tool with a sharp, heavy blade attached to a handle. It is primarily used for felling trees, splitting wood, and cutting timber.

Example in a sentence

Mtema mbao alitumia shoka (axe) kung’oa mti mkubwa uliokuwa umepinda barabarani.

The lumberjack used an axe to fall a large tree that had fallen across the road.


In conclusion, language serves as a means of communication and reveals the rich world of cultural understanding and practical knowledge. Swahili brings its own unique perspective to the world of tools and equipment. Through our exploration, we’ve uncovered the different tools in Swahili and their uses, like the “kipimo cha mkanda” and “shoka,” offering insights into how these items play crucial roles in everyday life. 

This journey of language and tools highlights the diverse ways we navigate the world, reminding us that while languages may differ, our need for these essential instruments unites us all.

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I'm an elementary school teacher who loves what she does! I enjoy creating resources in my Native language "kiswahili". My goal is to spread the beautiful language of "Kiswahili" inside and outside the classroom. Thanks for stopping by! Read More

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