Aug. 10, 2017

How usage of single or double consonants changes meaning of Luganda words

IT is alleged that at one time, a person was killed because of a misinterpretation of the written word.  A person in authority was informed of an arrest of someone and he sent a note in Luganda with the word “Mute” to the people who had arrested the person.  Not knowing proper spellings and pronunciation of Luganda words, the person who was given the note read out loudly: “Mutte” and they proceeded and killed the arrested person.  But the Luganda word in the note “Mute” meant ‘release the person’ whereas what he read out; “mutte” meant “kill the person”.

That is how crucial Luganda spellings are, to both the writer and the reader. You can easily misunderstand or be misunderstood. Writing single or double consonants can change meaning of words.

Consider the examples below:

1- Okuta: To release

     Okutta: To kill

2- Okuba: To be

     Okubba: To steal

3- Okusa: To grind

    Okussa: To breath

4- Kata: Nearly

   Katta: It kills.

5- Kaga: A cane

    Kagga: A stream

6- Kaza: Make dry

     Kazza: It brings back

7- Kabi: Danger

     Kabbi: He/ She (‘Ka’ is a diminutive prefix in this case) is a thief.

8- Kagi: Small egg

    Kaggi: Small door

9- Kaba:  chin bone

     Kabba:  It stole

10- Kuza: To make grow

     Kuzza: To bring back

11- Kuma: To blow over (fire)

      Kumma: To withhold (refuse to give) something from someone.

12- Siga: To plant

       Sigga: A centipede

         Ssiga: A firestone

13-   Sasa: To scatter

      Ssasa: A workshop (for mechanical work)

14- Saba: Pray.

       Sabba: I did not steal.

15- Muka: of high concentration.

       Mukka: Smoke

16- Muto: He/ She is young.

      Mutto: A cushion

17- Mubi: He/ She is bad.

       Mubbi: He/ She is a thief.

18- Kibo: A bed bug

       Kibbo: A basket

19- Kisa: Kindness

       Kissa: It leads to death.

20- Toma: Don’t appreciate

      Tomma: Don’t withhold

21- Endagu: Witchcraft.

       Endaggu: A type of yam

22- Bula : Disappear

       Bbula: Scarcity

23- Manya: Know

       Mannya: Names

24- Yeba: Get weak

       Yebba: He stole his own / He moved stealthily.

25- Gula: Buy

        Ggula: Open

26- Kula: Grow up

       Kkula: A beauty

27- Lugo: Fence

      Luggo: a long stick

28- Tuza: To cause to choke.

       Tuzza: To sound (the drum)

29- Tuga: Strangle

       Tugga: To stop (vehicle) abruptly/ tie tightly

30- Tama: Fed-up

       Tamma- He /She does not withhold.

31- Bala: Count.

      Bbala: A stain

32- Fuba: Try hard

      Ffuba: Very big chest

33- Yaza: Search

     Yazza: He/ She brought back.

34- Baka: Catch something thrown at you.

      Bakka: They went down.

35- Okusa: To grind.

      Okussa: To breath.

36- Ka: Home

       Kka: Come down

37- Okugula: To buy.

      Okuggula: To open.

38- Bikka: Cover

     Bbika: Push under

     Bika: Announce a death

39- Toba: Get wet.

       Tobba: Don’t steal.

40- Sajja: I did not come.

       Ssajja: A very huge man

41- Kuba: Beat

       Kubba: To steal

42- Siba: Tie

      Sibba: I don’t steal.


@ Nankinga Margaret



Aug. 4, 2017

How Luganda words change meanings depending on usage of one or double vowels

In Luganda, spelling is very crucial especially because words can change meanings depending on whether you have written them with single or double vowels.

Consider the examples below:

 1- Okusaka: To do a casual job and be given food in payment.      

    Okusaaka: To stretch by thumping or pounding the bark of Mutuba tree when making bark cloth.

2- Okusona: To knit together pieces of a mat using needle and sisal.

    Okusoona: To beat someone to something which he/she wanted.

3- Ayola: He / She is bringing up (a child)

  Ayoola: He/ She is getting things from the ground.

4- Okusenya: To brush teeth.    

Okuseenya:  Usually refers to hair when it begins to lose its natural colour but before it turns fully gray.

5- Okusiga: To plant      Okusiiga:  To paint.

6- Okusiba: To tie.      Okusiiba:  To fast.

7- Okusula: To spend the night at a place.      Okusuula: To throw away.

8- Okukola: To work      Okukoola: To weed out.

9- Okusoba: Things going wrong.      Okusooba:   To be slow.

10- Okupika: To pump air.    Okupiika: To give more than needed.

11- Okuseera- To hike prices.    Okusera: Night dancer (Ugandan meaning as in Collins dictionary).

12- Okuleega: To stretch something.        Okulega: To taste something especially a drink.

13- Okukoona:  To knock       Okukona: Not fully cooked.

14- Okuboza: To keep something for some time when you could have used it.      Okubooza: To fill a container up to the brim.

15- Okusesa: To make one laugh.           Okuseesa: To push forward.

16- Okuwera: To ban.      Okuweera:  To rest/ get relief.

17- Okuwola: To go cold or to give a loan (same spelling, different intonation).       Okuwoola:  To trim.

18- Okuwuba: To go wrong.      Okuwuuba: To wave.

19- Okuwoma: To take a lead in doing something.   

     Okuwooma: Something tasty.

20- Okusika: To pull.      Okusiika: To fry.

21- Okusala: To cut.      Okusaala: To pray the Muslim way.

22- Okusaba: To ask or pray (same intonation).    Okusaaba: To smear your body with something.

23- Okulama: To survive death/ Not to die.       Okulaama: To make a will.

24- Okumala: To finish.      Okumaala: To smear something on a hard surface.

35- Okusuba: To miss someone or something you wanted.        

      Okusuuba: To swing an object.

36- Okutuma: To order someone.        Okutuuma: To give someone or something a name or put together (pool) things (same spelling different intonation).

37- Okutama: To get fed up.     Okutaama: To become wildly angry.

38- Okutega: To trap.     Okuteega: To waylay/ ambush.

39- Okuvuma: To abuse.  Okuvuuma: To make animal like sounds or motor vehicle engine sound (same intonation).

40- Okuwoza: To cool something.      Okuwooza: To tax business commodities by taking a portion of them.

41- Okubuza: To make someone or something vanish from sight.       

      Okubuuza: To greet or question someone (Same intonation).

42- Okukula: To grow up.       Okukuula: To uproot.

43- Wema: Lick small seeds like simsim from the palm of your hand or plate and eat them.   

      Weema: Tent.

44- Bana: They are four.          Baana: Children.

45- Bina: 400.     Biina: Up and downward movement of eyebrows in a derogatory way.

46- Kama: To milk.    Kaama: A type of yam that usually grows in forests.

47- Okukaka: To force.    Okukaaka: To dislocate.

48- Okukiina: To speak ironically / mock someone.      Okukina: To prevail over or dominate someone.

49- Akaaba: He/ She is crying.       Akaba: Chin bone.


@ Nankinga Margaret




Sep. 15, 2016
Aug. 29, 2015















LUGANDA is the L1 spoken by the biggest number of people(over 4 million L1 speakers) and the most widely spoken L2  language in Uganda, apart from English. (Ethnologue)  It is used as a language of trade in most of Uganda's trading centres. It is the language of the Baganda' the biggest tribe in Uganda found in the central region where the capital is.

In this language, syllable sounds are pronounced as they are written in most cases except for a few exceptions.

Greetings depend on whether it is morning or the rest of the day, and the sex of the person you are greeting. Ssebo is used to address a male and is the equivalent of sir while nnyabo is the equivalent of madam.

SSEBO- SIR            (Sse- bo)

NNYABO- MADAM   (Nnya- bo)


Wasuze otya ssebo?   (Wa - su- ze   o- tya -pronounced as- tia)

This literally means 'How was your night sir?" and is the equivalent of 'Good morning sir'



Sometimes otyanno (o- tya- nno)  is used instead of otya but the meaning does not change:




For the rest of the day, the Luganda greetings are:

OSIIBYE OTYA ?  O- sii- bye   o- tya?  This literally means: "How is your day?" or "How has your day been?"



The same greeting is used in the evening when you want to say "Good evening".

All this is the formal greeting but there is an informal greeting usually used among peers and friends.

KI KATI?    Ki   ka- ti?  This literally means "What is going on in your life or around you?" The Baganda love news and originally,  after the above formal greeting of Osiibye otya?  they would then as continuation of the greeting ask: "Amawulire?" or "Agafa eyo?" These both literally mean: "What is the news?" or "what is happening where you are coming from?" This is what the later generations shortened to "Ki kati?"

The respondents answer: Nedda, Ki kati?  literally meaning, nothing, how about you?

Another informal greeting used among peers is: OBULAMU?   (O- bu- la- mu?)  

This literally means "How is your life? and is also the equivalent of "How are you?"


The respondent answers: Bulungi which means Good or fine or 'si bubi' meaning 'not bad' and when the respondent does not feel well the answer would be 'bubi'  ( bu- bi) meaning bad and then continue to explain.


Respondent:   BULUNGI / SI BUBI- FINE  




But if you get a visitor you start with the welcome words and then the greeting:


Nsanyuse okukulaba ssebo/ nnyabo: You are welcome sir/ madam. Or I am glad to see you sir / madam


Eradde ssebo/ nnyabo? : Is it peaceful where you are coming from?


And the visitor replies: Eradde- It is peaceful.


Osiibye otyanno ssebo/ nnyabo   (see above).




Essomo2: Lesson 2


Okutuuza omugenyi: Getting the visitor seated


After welcoming a visitor, a host will show him/ her where to sit before the greetings. The following will be used to guide the visitor where to sit:


Akatebe kaako [A-ka-te-be kaa-ko]   There is your seat / Sit on that chair


Akatebe kaakano [A-ka-te-be kaa-ka-no] Here is your seat / Sit on this chair.


Tuulira wano [Tuu- li-ra wa-no] Sit here.




Okweyanjula n’okwebaza: Introducing yourself and showing appreciation


Okweyanjula- Introducing yourself


You may find yourself in a situation where you have to introduce yourself.


Somebody may ask for your name or you may give it without being asked.




Erinnya lyo? [E-ri-nnya lyo- pronounced as lio ]  What is your name?


Nze James Green- My name is James Green




Ggwe  ani?-Who are you?


Nze James Green- I am James Green


Tubuulire erinnya lyo [Tu-buu-li-re e-ri-nnyalyo] Tell us your name


Nze James Green- My name is James Green


You should note that sometimes plural is used instead of singular when asking for names


Amannya go? [A-ma-nnya  go] – What are your names?


Here you can respond in plural: Amannya gange nze Caroline Arinawe-  (My names are Caroline Arinawe).


You can also simply say: Nze Caroline Arinawe- I am Caroline Arinawe.


Okwebaza: Showing appreciation


You may wish to show appreciation to somebody by thanking him/ herfor whatever reason. You may use the following:


Weebale nnyo ssebo [wee-ba-le  nnyo  sse-bo] - Thank you very much sir.


Weebale nnyo nnyabo [wee-ba-le  nnyo  nnya-bo] - Thank you very much madam.


Weebale [Wee-ba-le] - Thank you


Nneeyanzizza [nnee-ya-nzi-zza] - Thank you (usually used when somebody gives you something physical like food, a drink, etc.

Essomo 2: Lesson 3

Okwanjula abantu abalala: Introducing  other people

You may have people you are with that you may want to introduce or your host or person you are talking to may want to introduce some people to you.

These are some of the examples.

Maama [maa-ma] - Mother

Kankwanjulire maama.  [ka- nkwa-nju-li-re  maa-ma] - Let me introduce you to my mother.

Ono maama. [o-no  maa-ma] - This is my mother.

Maama wuuno. [maa-ma wuu-no]- Here is mother.

Taata [taa-ta] – Father/ my father

Kitange [ki-ta-nge]-  My father

Kankulage taata [ka- nku-la-ge  taa-ta] - Let me show you my father.

Ono ye taata. [o-no ye  taa-ta] - This is my father

Kitange wuuno. [ki-ta-nge  wuu-no] - Here is my father.


Omwana [o-mwa-na  pronounced as:  o-mu-ana] - Child

Abaana [a-baa-na]- Children.

Omwana wange [o-mwa-na  wa-nge]  – My child.

Abaana bange [a-baa-na  ba-nge] - My children.

Ono mwana wange [o-no- mwa-na  wa-nge]- This is my child.

Bano baana bange [ba-no  baa-na  ba-nge] - These are my children.

Kankwanjulire abaana bange [ka-nkwa-nju-li-re  a-baa-na   ba-nge] - Let me introduce you to my children.

Muwala [mu-wa-la]- Girl

Muwala wange [mu-wa-la  wa-nge] - My daughter

Bawala [ba-wa-la]- Girls

Bawala bange [ba-wa-la  ba-nge]- My daughters

Ono muwala wange [o-no  mu-wa-la   wa-nge]- This is my daughter.

Oyo  muwala wo? [o-yo-  mu-wa-la  wo?] – Is that your daughter?

Oyo muwala wange. [o-yo-  mu-wa-la  wa-nge]- That is my daughter.

Abo ababiri bawala bange. [a-bo  a-ba-bi-ri   ba-wa-la  ba-nge] - Those two are my daughters.

Kankwanjulire bawala bange. [ka-nkwa-nju-li-re ba-wa-la  ba-nge] - Let me introduce you to my daughters.

Mutabani [mu-ta-ba-ni]- son.

Mutabani wange [mu-ta-ba-ni  wa-nge] - my son.

Batabani [ba-ta-ba-ni]- sons

Batabani bange [ba-ta-ba-ni  ba-nge] - My sons

Ono mutabani wange [o-no  mu-ta-ba-ni  wa-nge] - This is my son.

Mutabani wange wuuno [mu-ta-ba-ni  wa-nge   wuu-no] - Here is my son.

Kankulage batabani bange. [ka-nku-la-ge  ba-ta-ba-ni  ba-nge]  –Let me introduce you to my sons.


Osobola okukyusa bino mu Lungereza?  - Can you translate these to English?

Nsanyuse okukulaba ssebo.

Tuulira wano.

Weebale nnyo ssebo

Nze David Lutalo

Bano baana bange.

Nnina abaana babiri

Mutabani wange ye Sam Obbo

Muwala wange ye Doreen Acan

Weeraba ssebo.