Telling Time in Swahili

Our daily Swahili class this morning was focused on telling time and we found out an interesting fact.

Here’s how you’d say it’s 7am:  Sasa ni saa moja asubuhi.

Let’s deconstruct this sentence.

Sasa = Now.

Ni = Is.

Saa = Time.

Moja = One.

Asubuhi = Morning.

Now you’re probably wondering the exact same thing that we did.  Why are you saying it’s one in the morning when it’s really 7am?  Like in Ethiopia, time begins with the rising of the sun.  So effectively, 7am is one hour after the sun rises near the equator.  This works well here and in Ethiopia because the time the sun rises and sets is pretty much the same every day.  Fortunately, we don’t see this in practice on a daily basis, but certainly something to think about.


  1. What about pre-sunrise? Like 5am. “Time minus two?” Or does a new day start at sunrise and go to 24?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.