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Chapter 6


A: Wa uhala po, tate?
B: Heeno, meme.
A: Nawa tuu?
B: Ehee, ondi li nawa. Ove wa uhala po, meme?
A: Heeno, tate.
B: Nawa tuu?
A: Ehee, onawa.
B: Owa hala shike?
A: Tate, onda hala okulanda ofewa. Omu naa?
B: Ehee, omu na. Owa hala ofewa youlikosha ile yokukosha?
A: Ofewa yokulikosha. Oi na ingapi?
B: Eedola omulongo.
A: Ooh, ondilo unene. Hmm... omu na oukuki?
B: Ehee.
A: Ove na ingapi?
B: Oifilinga itano.
A: Eewa, tate. Pe nge oukuki vavali nobiila imwe.
B: Eewa
A: Oimaliwa yoye oyo, tate.
B: Eewa, meme.
A: Eewa, tate, oshi liwete nale...
B: Oh! Tambulaa oshendja yoye.
A: Ah, tangi meme. Oshi li nawa.
English Oshikwanyama
Cuca shop Okamba
Store Ofitola
Proletarian revolution Elunduluko lovanailonga
Right-wing reactionary Omukalunduluka wolulyo
Money Oimaliwa
Change Oshendja
Expensive Ondilo
Cheap Ombilixa
Coins Oimaliwa ikukutu
Bills Oimaliwa yomafo
Enough! (interjection) Opuwo!
To be enough (verb) Wana
Receipt Okasilepa
Price Odado/ Opulaisa
Customer Okasitoma
Dollar Odola
Rand Olanda
10c coin / coins Oshifilinga / Oifilinga
Buy Landa (Lande)
Sell Landifa
Give Pa (Pe)
Pay Futa (Futu)
How much? Ingapi?
It is too expensive. Ondilo unene
I only have ... Ondi na ... ashike
Don’t cheat me. Ino nyokoma nge.
I don’t have enough money. Kandi na oimaliwa ya wana.

Quick Tip

To ask how much something costs, you ask how much it has. Thus, "How much is the soap?" is Ofewa oi na ingapi? See chapter seven for more information on stative subject concords. People will also understand you if you just name the item and say, "Ingapi?"

Exercise 1

Answer the following questions about the dialogue in complete sentences, in the language of the question.

  1. Okwa landa shike kofitola?
  2. Ofewa oi na ingapi?
  3. Did the customer want body soap or laundry detergent?
  4. Oukuki ove na ingapi?
  5. Okasitoma okwa futa eelanda hetatu. Obiila oi na ingapi?
  6. Okasitoma okwa landa eeshi?
  7. Okasitoma okwa futa noshiimaliwa shomilongo mbali. Oku na oshendja ingapi?

Exercise 2

  1. Ou na eedola omilongo nhano. Oto futu eedola omilongo nhatu na hamano. Paife, ou na ingapi?
  2. Ohandi lande oshikombo shoye. Ohandi ku pe eedola omafele atatu nomilongo hamano. Ou na ingapi?


Paife means “now”. However, paife in Namibia is far from the American version of paife, as you may have already noticed. Experimental observations have shown that the American sense of paife is certainly not universal, as West Africa Internal Time (also known as WAIT) also prevails here in Namibia. Paife can mean anything from “in five minutes” to “sometime today”.

You can string together many paifes, with the increased number of paifes meaning closer to the American sense of now. For example, paife paife is less immediate than paife paife paife paife.

Paife is used in all Oshiwambo dialects, but Oshindonga has a fun word for “now” as well – ngashingeyi. Similar to the stringing together of paifes, this word can also be used multiple times to indicate a time closer to the present. Ngashingeyi is much less urgent then ngashingeyingeyingeyingeyi.

You may also hear the Oshindonga word mbala, which indicates that something will happen in the near near future. Mbala is also strengthened by repetition.

OMUKWANYAMA TA TI: ~ Onghulungubu hai pwa makiya. ~ An old briar fence always has thorns (even if you try to remove it).(Old people always have wise things to say.)

Grammar Corner: Counting

Just as the possessive pronouns depend on noun classes, so do the numbers. When we count objects in Oshikwanyama, we must pay attention to what object is being counted. Again, this depends on the prefix of the noun:

Noun prefix Numerical prefix
omu- u-
ova- va-
omu- (not people) u-
omi- use normal numbers (or i-)
e- li-
oma- a-
oshi- sh-
oi- i-
olu- li- / lu-
oka- ka-
ou- (plural) va-
ou- (singular) u-
oku- ku-
o- (group 5 singular) use normal numbers
ee- (group 5 plural) use normal numbers

Match the appropriate prefix with the suffix of the number you want to form the numerical concord of a noun:

Number Numerical suffix
Imwe -mwe
Mbali -vali
Nhatu -tatu
Nhee -ne
Nhano -tano
Hamano -hamano
Heyali -heyali
Hetatu -hetatu
Omuwoi Omuwoi (no prefix needed)
Omulongo Omulongo (no prefix needed)

So, if you are a farmer counting animals::

One goat Oshikombo shi+mwe Oshikombo shimwe
Two goats Oikombo i+vali Oikombo ivali
Three goats Oikombo i+tatu Oikombo itatu
Oikombo itatu Oikombo omuwoi (omuwoi needs no prefix)
One cow Ongobe imwe (group 5 uses regular numbers)
Two cows Eengobe mbali (group 5 uses regular numbers)
One frog Efuma li+mwe Efuma limwe
Two frogs Omafuma a+vali Omafuma avali

Exercise 3

Write a passage describing a family you know in Oshikwanyama. If you are not living on a homestead, ask a friend to take you to theirs. Describe family members, number of houses, and the animals that are kept by your family.

Exercise 4

Translate the following English phrases into Oshikwanyama.

  1. I want to buy four loaves of bread.
  2. We need to buy three beers.
  3. He wants to buy fifteen frogs.
  4. They have five chickens to sell.
  5. I need to buy one bar of soap and four candles.

Quick Tip

We already know how to ask “how much” for money: oimaliwa ingapi. To ask “how much” or “how many” for other things, use -ngapi with the counting prefix: ovamwameme vangapi, eengobe ngapi. To ask "which", put the counting prefix before -lipi. Takamifa! Ngeenge owa eenyofi, oto ka xuxwila pombete yoye.OMUKWANYAMA TA TI:~ Okuna eenyala dile. ~ He has long fingers.(He is a thief.) Grammar Corner: Some / Each / All

Now we know how to talk about specific quantities of things. It is also practical to be able to refer to “some”, “each”, or “all” of something. “ Some” is formed with the singular suffix -mwe and the plural counting prefix:

Some frogs Omafuma a+mwe Omafuma amwe

Nouns with the prefixes omi- and -ee, which you count using normal numbers, are exceptions. They use the prefix di-:

Some cattle Eengobe di+mwe Eengobe dimwe

To say “each” or "every", simply put the word keshe in front of the singular noun. To say “each one” of a specific thing, use keshe with the word for one of that thing:

Each person Keshe omunhu Keshe umwe
Every day Keshe efiku Keshe limwe

To talk about “all” of something, insert the counting prefix betwen a- and -she. An a in the counting prefix changes to an e.

All the frogs Omafuma a + (a?e) + she Omafuma aeshe
All the cows Eengobe a + di + she Oongombe adishe

Quick Tip

  • “All of us” is atushe; “all of them” is aveshe; “all of you” is amushe.
  • For “everything”, just use aishe (oinima aishe).
  • For information on “many” and “few”, refer to Grammar Corner: Adjectives.