The First Lesson

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Abebi was preparing her first lesson for Becket. She was beside herself with excitement. She couldn’t wait to see him. They were going to have the lesson at the lake. It was too nice a day to be cooped up inside. Besides, he thought it would be better than being at his apartment. Perhaps, he was right. Her grandmother wouldn’t have approved of her being alone with a man in his apartment even if nothing happened between them.

“Make sure you and he are always out in public. Never go to his apartment. I don’t care how much of a gentleman you think he is. He’s a man, isn’t he? And men have needs.”

“Don’t worry, Grandma. I won’t go to his apartment,” Abebi promised, although she didn’t expect him to invite her to go there at all.

For his first lesson, she would teach him the essential Hausa phrases. She wrote them down in her notebook. When she was finished, she took the bus to the center where he was going to pick her up from and then they would head over to the lake.

She arrived at the center and waited for him. Five minutes later, he showed up. Smiling, she almost ran to his car. He came out and walked around to the passengerside to open the door. “Sannu, Abebi,” he said with a smile which made her heart beat even faster.

“Sannu,” she replied. “You remembered.”

“Yes, I did.”


“Did you have a good weekend?”

“Yes, I did. What about you?”

“It was a quiet one. I spent most of it reading.”

“I spent mine doing homework, studying and preparing our first lesson. I finished writing it all down today.”

“So, teacher, what do you have planned for me today?”

“We will begin with greetings and essential phrases.”

“Sounds good. Afterwards, we can grab something to eat before I take you home.”

She liked the idea of eating at restaurant with him. She enjoyed his company and he seemed to enjoy hers too. “Are you going to swim today?” she asked.

“No, not today.”

“You’re a very good swimmer.”

“Thanks. I learned how to swim when I was 4. My father taught me. What about you? Do you swim?”

Abebi shook her head. “No. I don’t know how to.”

“You mean no one taught you?”

“My father tried to teach me but I was afraid. I’m hoping that one of these days I would get over my fear and go for swimming lessons.”

“I could teach you if you like.”

 The thought of him teaching her thrilled her but unnerved her at the same time. There would be some body contact and she wasn’t sure if her grandmother would approve. “Is there a pool where you live?”

“No, but one of my co-workers has a bungalow with a swimming pool. She wouldn’t mind if I used it to teach you. Think about it and let me know if you would like me to teach you or if you would prefer to take swimming lessons at one of the swimming schools.”

“Do you know if any of them offer free swimming lessons?”

“I don’t think any of them do.”


“You don’t have to learn how to swim now if you aren’t ready,” he told her.

After he parked the car, they walked to the plank and sat in the area where he normally went. The sun was in and out of the clouds but according to the forecast, rain wasn’t expected to fall until the following week. Abebi opened her knapsack and took out her notebook. She felt a bit nervous now, especially with him watching her. Willing herself to be calm, she opened the notebook. “I will say each phrase and tell you what it is and then, you say it,” she said. “Na gode. That means thank you. Now, you say it.”

“Na gode.”

“Eh. This means yes and a’a means no.”

“Eh. A’a.”

“How would you say, ‘yes, thank you’?”

“Eh, na gode?”

Abebi smiled. “That’s correct. And, ‘no thank you?’

“A’a, na gode.”

“Good. Now if you want to find out where the bathroom is, you say, Ina gidan wanka?”

“Ina gidan wanka?”

“Kunna bar / Juya dama which mean ‘Turn left / right’”

“Kunna bar / Juya dama.”

“Daina. It means ‘stop'”


“Good. People say ‘daina‘ to give a stop signal. So, how would you say to someone, stop, turn left?”

“Daina. Kunna bar.”

“Very good. And how do you ask someone where bathroom is?”

“Ina gidan wanka?”

“We’ve done greetings, directions. Now, we’ll go over words and phrases you will use when you’re in a restaurant. “Dadi. That means ‘delicious.'”


“Ina jin yunwa. That’s how you say, ‘I’m hungry’.”

“Ina jin yunwa.”

“Ruwa. That means ‘water’.”


“When you go to the market or a shop and you see something you like, you ask someone who works there, ‘Nawa ne wannan?’ That means, ‘How much is this?'”

“Nawa ne wannan?”

“When they tell you the price, you think it’s too expensive, you say, ‘Tsada sosai.'”

“Tsada sosai.”

“So, you’re in a restaurant and you eat something which you really enjoyed, what do you say?”


“What about if you’re thirsty?”

“Ruwa. How do you say, please?”

“don Allah.”

“Ruwa, don Allah.”

“You go into a store and you see a shirt you like but don’t know how much it costs, what do you do?”

“I go to the salesperson and ask, ‘Nawa ne wannan?'”

“And if it’s more than you’re willing to pay?”

“I will say, ‘tsada sosai’ and put it back on the rack.”

Abebi smiled. “Very good. I think this is enough for the first lesson. The next lesson, we will learn numbers and other expressions and phrases like excuse me, goodbye, I don’t know and do you speak English.”

“Those will definitely come in very handy for me, when I forgot how to say something in Hausa.”

“You did very well today.”

“And you’re a very good teacher.”

She smiled. “Thank you.” She gave him a sheet with everything they had just done. “You can go over this when you have time and in our next lesson, we will do a review to see how much you remember.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She put her notebook back into her knapsack and they sat there for a while.

Then, he announced, “Ina jin yunwa.” He rose to his feet and helped her up.

“Ne ma. That means, ‘me too.'”

They went to Foodlumbykatie and both had the Peppered goat meat with Safari Rice. “Dadi,” Becket said before having a second mouthful. He asked for a second glass of water because of the spicy habanero and red bell peppers.

Source: The Culture Trip

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