Nkya iga Oluganda (sounds like Encha yeega Oluganda) means “I am still learning Luganda.” Luckily, we are not learning how to read or write Luganda at this point, so we only write how it sounds to us, which is different for Leland and me.
Immaculate, our language helper, is a primary school teacher who is not currently working, so she is able to help teach us every Wednesday and Friday afternoon for 1 hour. An hour doesn’t seem like much time but by the end of each lesson, our brain is fried and we are drained from trying to process and learn. She is patient with us, she challenges us, she speaks slowly and repeats herself so we can understand.
Leland shared a blog post on his Facebook page about language learning that is so relevant to us right now. Here it is, if you’d like more insight into the challenge of language learning: http://lindseydoeslanguage.com. While we know the importance of learning a language to connect with a culture, we also know how exhausting and discouraging it is when we don’t know enough, we aren’t confident in speaking because we sound like a 2-year old, we aren’t fluent yet…
But we also see how Ugandans light up when we try. We make connections and build relationships through basic conversation because we are making the effort. We mess up, they laugh, we laugh and we have lots of embarrassing stories to share. I have told someone “thank you for the work” (“webale amilimu”) when I bought something from them and meant to say “thank you as always” (“webale ngobalejo”). Leland told our house worker, Evelyn, that she was annoying him (“onyiziza”) when he meant to say he appreciated her (“neanziza”). As I was leaving a place where the person was staying, I told them to travel well. Leland tried to ask for water (“amazzi”) but instead asked for poop (“amazzie”) – and we feel like those two should be more different than they are. And we have many more stories like that.
So while it feels like we’re never going to be fluent in Luganda, we have come a long way and we have to remind ourselves it takes time and we need to continue to persevere. I may never make a speech in Luganda but I hope to at least be able to understand it one day. And more importantly, my prayer is that it continues to help me build relationships with people in our lives.