Learn Rundi

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About Kirundi

Rundi, also known as Kirundi, is spoken by the vast majority of people in Burundi where it is an official language, alongside French and English. It is also spoken in parts of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kirundi is mutually intelligible with Kinyarwanda, spoken in Rwanda. It is a tonal language with two main tones: high and low. The language includes influences of French, Arabic, German and Swahili which is also the language of trade in Burundi.

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Fun facts — Rundi

  • It is a compliment to say a woman has ‘eyes like those of a cow’ - amaso y’inyana - because cows are a symbol of beauty (and wealth) in Burundi.
  • A common Kirundi saying is: ‘Nta ndagukunda nka kwankira umwana’ - ‘You cannot say you like me, if you do not like my children’.
  • The rock (pictured above) is a Burundi landmark called ‘La pierre de Livingstone et Stanley’. The disputed story goes that it marked the location where explorer Dr David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley first met.
  • The expression ‘have cows and children’ – ‘urakagira inka n’ibibondo’ means to wish someone good fortune.
  • Being a good neighbour is highly valued in Burundi, and locals often sign off a conversation with the words ‘we are together, we communicate’ – ‘turi kumwe-turumvirana’.

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