The Ganda people of the East African country of Uganda, reside primarily in the sub-national kingdom of Buganda. Luganda language is their mother tongue, and it is the language from which the name for the Zika virus originated.
Luganda Language | Buganda: A Sub-Kingdom of Uganda
5 million Bagandans (commonly referred to as the Ganda people) make up the largest Ugandan ethnic group, representing approximately 20% of Uganda’s total population. Buganda (which means bundles) is the largest sub-national kingdom in present-day Uganda. The name Uganda is a Swahili word meaning “Land of the Ganda” which was first used by the Arab and Swahili traders on the East African coast to refer to the Bugandan Kingdom.
Who Speaks Luganda Language?
The official spoken language of Buganda is known as Luganda, referring to the Eastern region of Uganda where the largest number of native speakers are found. After English, the official language of Uganda, Luganda is the most spoken language in the country (even more so than the second official language, Swahili). Until the 1960s, Luganda was also the official language of instruction in primary schools in Eastern Uganda.
Luganda Language | What Does Ziika Mean?
Luganda belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger–Congo language family. The written script of Luganda is Arabic, but the language did not exist in its written form until the second half of the 19th century. The word Zika, also known as Ziika, comes from the Luganda word which literally means overgrown. The Zika Forest, located near Entebbe in Uganda, is the place where the Zika virus was first reported in monkeys in 1947. It was not identified in infected humans in the region until 1952.
For those studying the Zika virus, or tourists visiting Buganda, the relatively new translation services mobile app, Safarini Translator, now translates from English into Luganda (and visa versa). Although the app is limited in terms of the number of words or phrases it can translate, it is helpful in the absence of a Lugandan translation or interpreting services provider.
Can’t wait to learn a little Luganda? Check out the phrase below:
“Good morning” in Luganda is “Wasuze otya nno? which literally means “how was your night?”
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