Swahili Expert Debunks ‘Benki’ or ‘Banki’ Argument on Kenyan Notes

Swahili Expert Debunks 'Benki' or 'Banki' Argument on Kenyan Notes

Kenyans have been engaged in a back and forth argument over a probable typing error on both the old and new generation currencies.

Netizens have been arguing over the correct spelling of the word bank in Swahili with some claiming Tanzania got it right by writing ‘Benki’ on their currency compared to Kenya’s ‘Banki’.

However, speaking to kenyagist.com, renowned Swahili author and lecturer at the Riara University’s School of International Relations and Diplomacy Ken Walibora noted that both were correct.

A photo of Ken Walibora speaking at a past event

He further stated though that in his opinion, the Kenyan version was more accurate as it was a closer variation to the original English word; bank.

Walibora also noted that the terms weren’t pure Swahili but derivations from another language, in this case, English.

“There are words that are derived in Swahili we say utohozi, you derive a word from another language and you domesticate it in the second language,” he added, which happened with the word bank.

The Swahili don also informed our news desk that the most correct way of deriving was to render the word closest to how it’s pronounced in the original language.

“I’m not an English expert but I do believe the ‘A’ in the word ‘Bank’ is pronounced as it is rather than as an ‘E’, thus ‘Banki’ over ‘Benki’,” Walibora confirmed.

He went on to state that the Tanzanian Swahili was not necessarily the best as they also have a different word that Kenyans would find questionable.

On that note, he stated that the Tanzanians used Manejimenti (management) on what Kenyans refer to as usimamizi.

He finally noted that neither was wrong so it’s unfair for the general public to go after the Central Bank of Kenya for using one version of the word over another.

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A photo of the Central Bank of Kenya in Nairobi


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