It was parte after parte on everyone’s lips, but reality was different on the ground
Every year, thanks to the internet, some slang words and phrases make it to mainstream use and 2019 was no different. Most tickled, others were affirming while others provoked introspection.
Many of them are born on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, before getting a life of their own and making it onto songs and even clothing.
Here are some popular phrases that were on Kenyans lips in 2019 and what they mean.
1. Kwa ground vitu kweli ni different
If you type into your Google search bar the Swahili word ‘kwa’, the search engine is likely to suggest the phrase ‘kwa ground vitu ni different’ or perhaps that happened to me alone, in which case maybe kwa ground vitu kweli ni different.
The phrase broke out in 2019 and suggests that the reality could be a far cry from expectation.
The phrase rings true especially on social media where the content is heavily curated and everyone seems to be in a better situation, but the reality away from social media could be different.
For instance, President Uhuru Kenyatta was puzzled that Kenyans are broke because kwa ground vitu ni different.
Or that musician who sings about living a life on the fast lane when he actually leads a regular life like the majority of Kenyans because, the situation is different on the ground.
2. No human is limited
Eliud Kipchoge gave the country the self affirming phrase No Human is Limited when he successful ran a marathon in under two hours. Kipchoge set out to prove that when you focus on your goal, work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible.
The phrase provided the shot of optimism to an otherwise grim and gloomy outlook of the country and for a period, nothing was out of reach.
3. But si ni life
There are things that happen to you and you can’t do anything to change them, that is just how life is. Like the serenity prayer, si ni life is an acceptance of the things that you cannot change.
4. Wajinga Nyinyi
A few weeks ago, rapper King Kaka struck a chord with Kenyans with his song Wajinga Nyinyi which called out corruption in the country.
Wajinga Nyinyi became a chorus for the self indictment for the problems that the country is facing.
5. Inauma, but itabidi uzoee
This phrase came from musician Simple Boy when he was asked in an interview about the mocking comments he gets about his appearance. “Inauma but itabidi uzoee (It is hurtful but you have to get used to it),” he said.
The phrase was appropriated from Simple Boy and gained mainstream use in what you say when you have gotten used to your predicament.
For instance, if you support a football team that keeps losing and your friends make fun of you, you can reply that “inauma but inabidi uzoee”.
6. Parte after parte
Ugandan rapper Big Tril’s breakthrough song Parte after Parte became popular in Kenya among party-goers. Even embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko used it. The phrase means no end to the partying or celebration.
7. Before Neno
In the days since Pastor James Ng’ang’a of Neno Evangelism’s broadcast outburst, where he chided the bishops whom he said joined the church looking malnourished and with ‘matuta’, the phrase ‘Before Neno’ has taken on a new meaning: transformation. It embodies the phrase from grace to grass. Coming from a place of nothing to one of abundance.
8. Hio volume iko aje?
This phrase became a common way to end your thoughts, especially if your views upsets the apple cart; and are controversial. It is a question that translates to is that volume okay?
9. Wamlambez, Wamnonyez
Before, it was appropriated into popular culture and gained a life of its own, Wamlambez Wamnyonyez was an old ice cream shop in Eastlands, Nairobi. A song by the same title by the group Sailors, however, made it one of the popular phrases of the year. The song itself became one of 2019’s biggest hits.
Made famous by West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo, this phrase came to represent the governor’s funny mien became a popular phrase to refer to anyone who was a bit heavy around the centre. Lonyangapuo, the originator of the word gave his own interpretation: Kijana fupi, nono, round…with heavy emphasis on the word round.