Swahili games Songs and Swahili games are a part of every primary student’s experience and are not just used in music class and recess. In all classes, teachers can use them to assist students in building a classroom community, forming friendships, and even learning content!
There are several Swahili songs and Swahili games that I like to play with my own students, and I’d like to share them with you! They are very fun and easy to sing and play.
Keep in mind that in Kiswahili, words are pronounced as they appear, making learning the language relatively easy.
Swahili Games Song #1
The first game song is called “kichwa mabega magoti vidole” It dates back to the 1950s, yet its exact origin is unknown. To speakers of English, it is the “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” song. Here are the lyrics:
kichwa mabega magoti vidole magoti vidole magoti vidole.
Kichwa mabega magoti vidole.
macho pua masikio mdomo
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes;
knees and toes; knees and toes; knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes
Eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
Swahili Games #2
The second game song is called “Meli Meli” It is sung when two people are playing a game like jumping rope. Two people hold the rope, and then another person jumps over the rope in the middle. The last line is sung when the two people holding the rope throw their rope to the other person, essentially switching ends of the rope.
Here are the lyrics:
Meli meli meli ina madirisha
ikipita juu ina madirisha
Ikipita chini ina madirisha
Mjapani kofia ya Isa
Mchanga wa pwani una hamakisha
A ship ship ship has windows
If it goes up, it has windows
If it goes down, it has windows
A Japanese woman is wearing Issa’s hat
The sand of the sea makes someone angry
The last two lines are just words; there is no translation.
Swahili Games #3
This game song is known as “The Letter Song” and is similar to Duck, Duck, Goose. The children sit in a circle facing each other while one child goes around to each person singing the song and touching each person’s head or shoulder until they choose a person to drop the letter next to, and that person must chase the person who dropped the letter.
Here is how to play: Also called the Letter Song
Kiswahili English Translation
Napeleka barua kwa baba I sent a letter to my father.
Ikanipotea njiani On the way, I dropped it.
Akaja mtu akaiokota akaitia kwenye mfuko wake Somebody came and picked it up
and put it in his pocket
sio wewe It’s not you. (Touch any person.)
sio wewe It’s not you. (Touches new person)
sio wewe It’s not you. (Touches new person.)
Wewe! It’s you!
Here the person holding the letter
drops the letter to anyone they choose, and this person runs after the person who dropped the letter to catch them.
What is Kiswahili?
Why do I use Kiswahili instead of Swahili? I’m glad you asked! Kiswahili is actually the more accurate term when describing the language. Swahili is what is most often used; however, Kiswahili is preferred. People who speak Kiswahili as their mother tongue refer to themselves as Swahili.
The Kiswahili language has diverse derivations, including Arabic, English, German, and Portuguese, which is the result of colonization and increased trade with these countries. Not only is Kiswahili the most widely used language in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, but, it is also the official language (alongside English) of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is also spoken in Burundi, Rwanda, Mayotte, South Africa, Somalia, Congo, Mozambique, and Zaire!
I love teaching Kiswahili and aspire to make it as fun as possible, and songs and games are the perfect way to engage students while also learning the language!
If you are interested in playing the Letter Game Song with your own students, check it out here on my TPT store!
Besides the products linked above, I have many other activities in my TPT store that are designed to teach Kiswahili while having fun!
You May Also Like…
Check out the Class Games Bundle, which contains 4 products!
In conclusion, I hope you have found this helpful! If you have questions or are looking for something in particular, please comment or reach out to me!
Tutaonana baadaye! (See you later!)