Last night mom and I were watching the second season of The Wire (yeah, I know we’re a bit late to this show, but don’t blame me, I wasn’t even born when this episode aired) before bed and were both shocked to hear Swahili! I made mom rewind and watch again, and sure enough, there’s a guy speaking Swahili!
See for yourself:
Now, if you’ve watched the youtube link I posted above, you probably noticed a few things (or maybe not, I might just be more sensitive since I’ve spent the majority of my life in a Swahili-speaking country).
- Hooray for HBO and The Wire for using Swahili. There were words and phrases that I could pick out so at least some of it is accurate. However, maybe this guy is from Kenya or maybe he’s just an actor learning lines, but his Swahili accent certainly doesn’t sound like anyone I know from Tanzania.
- How is it at all plausible that a man from East Africa is employed on a boat that has docked in both Baltimore and Philadelphia and he doesn’t speak a word of English? Even more crazy is that the boat is supposedly filled with lots of other workers. How the heck do they communicate in order to get anything done? I seriously doubt that a native Swahili speaker would ever be hired for a position without speaking ANY English, I mean, English is an official language of Tanzania (although you’d barely know it since so few people speak it well).
- The way that the detective responds to the Swahili-speaking man is just downright absurd. Talk about cultural insensitivity (and I actually really LIKE this show). The detective literally says, “Yabba dabba dobba doo”. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is a black man making fun of another black man using words from the Flintstones. Need I say more?
- Lastly, while I don’t appreciate the delivery of the sentiment from the detective, he does have a point. How WOULD someone travel half-way around the world and not speak a word of English?
Now that’s quite enough of my ranting for one day. Just had to stick up for all my East African, Swahili-speaking buddies out there! Now, back to The Wire…