Hausa, A Major African Language

When I was in Nigeria, I studied Hausa. It is the language of the largest tribe in the northern part of Nigeria. It is the trade language around Jos, the Capital of Plateau State, Nigeria in the north. If people went to school, they studied in English, and everyone learned English, but not everyone had been to school. My maid had not been to school, so I studied Hausa to talk to her. I also used Hausa at the market place. They understood English, but because I could speak to them in Hausa, they gave me better deals. There was no course or books. We lived on a high school compound, and some of the high school boys came to my house to teach me Hausa and were thrilled to do so. I remember a little of what they taught me, but I can’t use it anywhere else other than in Nigeria unless I run into a Nigeria in another place which I do occasionally. When I use the little bit of Hausa I learned, the Nigerians I meet outside are thrilled even if Hausa isn’t their tribal language and even though I can’t’ carry on a conversation, I can at least say something to them in Hausa. I decided to share a little of what I learned with you. in case you have a Nigerian friend or have a chance to travel to Nigeria.

Photo by Blue Ox Studio on Pexels.com

sanu = hello

barka da yama = good evening

barka da safe = good morning

ruwa= water

ba ruwa= there is no water

tefee= go

ba tefee ba= doesn’t or don’t go

A lady selling vegetables at the market place.

Rosita ita ba tefi ba = Rosita doesn’t go. (“ita” is the pronoun, she. When you use a person’s’ name as the subject of a sentence, you have to use the personal pronoun after it.

Rosita ita ba tefi ba kasuwa. = Rosita doesn’t go to the market, (kasuawa= market, and they leave “to.” out.)

You can see all kinds of interesting things at the market place. I even saw a Juju man. Juju is like voodoo, and they have people scared of them.

Ni tefi kasuwa. = I go to the market.

Ni ba tefi ba kasuwa. = I don’t go to the market.

Nawa ne” = How much?

A Nigerian market place

daya – 1

biyu – 2

uku – 3

hudu – 4

biyar -5

Juju men don’t all dress the same. Here are two more Juju men.

shida – 6

bakwai – 7

takawas – 8

tara – 9

goma – 10

goma sha daya = 11

goma sha biyu – 12

goma ssha uku – 13

Another Juju man/ The Juju man I saw wore a crazy looking wig and a lion cloth.

ashirin = 20

ashirin sha daya = 20

ashrin sha biyu – 22

ashrin sha biyar – 25

talatin = 30

talatin sha biyar – 35

arabain – 40

hamsin – 50

shitin – 69

another picture at a Nigerian market place. The market place is all outdoors.

saibain – 70

tamani – 80

tasani -90

dari- 100

dari biyu – 200

darki uki -300

dubu- 1,000

dubu daya da daya – 1001

At times, when we tried to take someone’s picture at the market place, they would hide their face,. I was shocked at what they thought when I found out why they didn’t want their pictures taken. They were scared that their picture would be shown outside of Nigeria and someone would mistake them for a monkey.

In Nigeria, when I was there, they used naira and kobo. Naira was the name of the larger bills, and kobo was the name of the change. However, I have heard they no longer use kobo. I didn’t learn much Hausa, and it has been many years, and I have forgotten most of what I knew because I never had a chance to use it. For some reason, the Japanese I studied never had a chance to leave me because everyone wants to speak Japanese, but there are people interested in Africa too. I learned while i was there that if you spent a long time in one of their rest houses, they have Hausa classes at the rest house. You can get by with English in Nigeria, but I am a language person, and I not only have learned to speak several, but I have dabbled too, and this is one of the languages I just dabbled in for fun. I learned to say “ba ruwa,” “there is no water,” because we had water problems often.

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