Language Primer: Enahara


For those whose tastes extend to the linguistic Mozambique Island delivers a distinct dialectic morsel: Enahara. This vernacular – derived from Mahkuwa, the most widely spoken indigenous language in the country – is prevalent in Nampula province and centres on the nation’s former capital.

Enahara is a coastal dialect which is spoken by some 460,000 people. However, the island is a small place and not home to so many speakers, leaving the link primarily as a symbiotic one. To hear it spoken is to be transported to the wide-open Rua dos Combatentes and its glorious sea views. In the distance, Fort Sao Sebastiao maintains its vigil from the island’s north as its sibilant counterpart, Cobra Island, solemnly guards the southern tip. All around the tropical heat casts a delightful shimmer as Ilha’s fragrant, storied past reveals itself.

(Language Editor: Our Xangana guide should prove useful too.)

African History

More than a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this former centre of trade is an African icon. Goan, Arabic, Swahili, Portuguese and French influences have left their indelible mark. Furthermore, the spirits left in their wake insinuate themselves in the characterful colonial buildings, picturesque mosques and hoving churches. The atmosphere is at once crumbling and bucolic. A cool breeze, gently aiding the dhow fishing boats as they ebb in the shallow seas, creates a bubble through which time inexorably passes, but ever so slowly.

It is here the dialect comes to the fore. The kinetic, warm rhythm reflects its island setting and brings with it a sense of timelessness. Listen to the lilt of Enahara and soak up centuries of an African landmark’s sun-baked history.

(Mozambique Editor: As with our Xangana primer, we won’t pretend it’s anywhere definitive. It isn’t, and it’s probably riddled with holes. However, it is the result of exploring this charming Mozambican island and trying to understand it as much as we can. That said, if anybody gets any help from it then hallelujah, we’ve done something right.)

Unleash the Enahara

I – Miano

You – Vano

He/she/it – Ala

I’m fine – Salam

Thank you – Koshukuru

Goodbye – Korua

What’s your name? – Onasi mia pani?

My name is – Nzinanakalti

Nice to meet you – Eukitzivela/Oodsuwela

Good morning – Mosheleliwa

Good afternoon – Mashkomulu

Good evening – Mokeleliwa

How much? – Enhalakavi?

Yes – Ayo

No – Nada

Sorry – Okiswamiki

Bald – Ntari

I am bald – Miano kiana ntari

I like to learn – Miano okisivela otsuwela

I like your nose – Miano okisivela epulau

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