Friday, April 21, 2017

An Excerpt From Joseph K. Adjaye's Book "Time in the Black Experience" About Kiswahili, Luganda, & Lingala Days Of The Week

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides a synopsis of the 1994 book Time in the Black Experience edited by Joseph K. Adjaye.

This pancocojams post also features a brief excerpt of Adjaye's book which provides information about the names of the days of the week in three Bantu languages Kiswahili, Luganda, and Lingala and other historical and cultural information related to that subject.

This pancocojams post is part of an ongoing series that provides information about and lists of day names in various African languages. Click the "African languages days of the week" tag to find other posts in this ongoing series.

The content of this post is presented for linguistic, historical, cultural, and educational purposes.

I reprint excerpts from certain books, particularly hard to find books, as a means of sharing historical and/or cultural information. I encourage visitor to this website who are interested in this subject to read this entire book.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Joseph K. Adjaye for editing this book. Thanks also to Google books for providing online pages of this book.

Information about Kiswahili, Lingala, and Luganda languages are also included in this pancocojams post Names For The Days Of The Week In Arabic & In Seven (African) Bantu Languages

From Joseph K. Adjaye
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994 - Social Science - 233 pages
"In the first book which deals entirely with the subject of time in Africa and the Black Diaspora, Adjaye presents ten critical case studies of selected communities in Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South. The essays cover a wide spectrum of manifestations of temporal experience, including cosmological and genealogical time, physical and ecological cycles, time and worldview, social rhythm, agricultural and industrial time, and historical processes and consciousness. The studies confirm the continuity of temporal experience among Africans from pre-colonial times, through the colonial period in Africa, across continents through slavery and Maroon societies, to present-day communities like the Gullah of the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The subject of time, now recognized to be relative rather than uniform, draws together evidence from a variety of disciplines, specifically history, linguistics, political science, anthropology, and philosophy."


Page 44


Fascinating from a variety of vantage points in Kiswahili is the rather unusual concept of juma. This is usually used to refer to the seven-day week. The concept of juma seems to be based on the Islamic sabbath (Ijumaa). In other words, from the single Muslim day of weekly public prayer-Friday (Ijumaa) was derived the term for the whole week.

[page 45]
Yet, both twentieth century Kiswahili and Luganda prefer to use the borrowed term wiki (or wiiki, in the case of Luganda) to refer to the week. The impact of the European influence, especially as it tried to organize the life and labor of the natives, has endured long after colonial rule came to an end.

Regarding the Kiswahili term juma, the language later gets complicated because on its own, the word juma means week. However, juma tatu means the third day of the Swahili week, which is Monday in Swahili. Prima facie, one would have expected juma tatu to mean third week; it does not.

In Kiswahili the week begins on Saturday (Jumamosi) and ends on Friday (Ijumaa). Boys born on Friday are named Juma, while girls are named Mwajuma or Mwanajuma. This system is derived from the Islamic culture and calendar. Thus, in Swahili, the seven days of the week are sequentially as follows: Jumamosi (Saturday), Jumapili (Sunday), Jumatatu (Monday), Jumanne (Tuesday), Jumatano (Wednesday), Alhamisi (also spelled Alkhamisi) (Thursday), and (Ijumaa (Friday). Note how the last two days are derived directly from Arabic.). The words mosi, pili, tatu, nne, and tano simply mean “first”, “second”, “third”, “fourth”, and “fifth”, respectively. In reality, however, most Kiswahili speakers do not begin their work or week on Saturday as their language would suggest; rather Monday is the first day of work for the week.

In Zaire, however, speakers of Kiswahili, mainly in the eastern part of the country, sometimes use an alternative vocabulary with the week beginning on Monday (the first day of work). The tendency is to describe the days of the week as follows: Siku ya kazi ya kwanza (the first day of work; Monday), Siku ya kazi ya pili (the second day of work; Tuesday), (Siku ya kazi ya tatu (the third day of work; Wednesday), (Siku ya kazi ya nne; the fourth day of work; Thursday), (Siku ya kazi ya tano; the fifth day of work; Friday); (Siku ya poso, the food ration day; Saturday), (Siku ya Mungu; God’s day; Sunday).

From this point of view Luganda, does seem to possess a vocabulary for the week that is closer to the work habits of at least the formal sector of the economy. Thus, in Luganda, some of the seven days of the week are called, or rather are described as the Olwokusooka (“first day; Monday), Olwokubiri (“second day”; Tuesday), and so on.

Luganda does not seem to have a term of its own to refer to Sunday. The English word “Sunday”, is precisely what Luganda speakers use to

[page 46]
refer to the day. In addition, many male Baganda babies born on that day are given the first name of Sunday.

Of the three Bantu languages that concern us here, it is Lingala that most clearly relates the days of the week to work (or labor). Thus, Monday is called , or rather, is described as “the first day of work” in Lingala mokolo mwa (or ya) mosala moko. It is a longish, cumbersome category for dealing with any single day of the week, but it is historically revealing, a point we shall return to presently.

The correlation of the week to labor is said to have originated during the forced labor regime of the Belgian Congo in the late nineteenth century. Thus, the work week begins on Monday and ends of Friday. Saturday continues to be referred in Lingala as mokolo mwa poso (or simply, [m]poso), the day on which the European master distributed food rations to the African soldiers and forced laborers (poso, being derived from Kiswahili posho, meaning “food rations). As Charlie Gilman (1979, p.106) once put it “The Swahili word posho rations has been extended in both L [Lingala] and Z S [Zairian Swahili] to mean Saturday, the day the soldier got his rations, or a week, the period between the distribution of rations. Sunday became mokolo mwa Eynga, God’s day, that is the day of rest in the tradition of the Christian sabbath.” Thus African labor was being regulated and controlled partly in reference to the Christian calendar, a legacy that endures to the present day."...
Pancocojams Editor:

Note that the name for the nation given in this excerpt as "Zaire" has been changed to the "Democratic Republic of the Congo" (also known as "Congo Kinshasa").

Also, note that the word "mosala" on page 46 above is spelled in this book with accents over the two “a”s.

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