Free Online and Offline Swahili Dictionaries

Online Dictionaries

Let's start with the most obvious medium here, the online dictionaries. You can "fire up" any one of these so long as you've internet and a browser regardless of your device, be it a computer, tablet or phone. The downside though is that you'll need internet to access any of them.

1. Swahili Oxford

swahili oxford
Kirai-what! Did you mean Kiraitu? How about we just stick to Neno?

This is a full-fledged free Swahili dictionary from Oxford. Unlike other dictionaries online, this actually defines words rather than just translate words from English to Swahili and vice versa. You can visit the site here.


2. Wikamusi

wikamusi
Wikamusi

Wikamusi is the Swahili equivalent of the Wikitionary - Wikipedia's English Dictionary. I suppose its total words is not as large as the Oxford dictionary but it's nonetheless a good addition to your dictionary arsenal.

Furthermore, like everything else on Wikimedia, its user contributed and therefore it will keep growing. Also, in addition to definitions, Wikamusi also shows pictures, synonyms (visawe) and translations to English and some of our local dialects, something I might add Oxford doesn't have.

You can visit Wikamusi here.


Offline Dictionaries

At the moment, the best offline dictionary you can get your hands on is the one in the bookshop. The reason for this, is that most offline dictionaries available are not in the real sense dictionaries.

What most of them do, like the bulk of the "Online Swahili Dictionaries" available, is just translate from Swahili to English or vice versa. Now, despite the wording, such a dictionary has its value too especially if it offers a standard definition beside the translation. For that reason I'll include them here.

1. TUKI

tuki
TUKI

Of all the offline Swahili dictionaries out there, the TUKI one is no doubt the most thorough. I've been using it for a couple of years and it has proved itself to be invaluable.

The dictionary has both English - Swahili and Swahili - English Dictionaries so it can be helpful in situations where you have a Swahili word and don't know its meaning or word in English.

The dictionary is available in a packaged HTML format and as such you'll need a browser to view it though you don't have to be connected to the internet to use it.

Get the ZIP package from here (TUKI_Eng-Sw-Eng_Dictionary.zip), extract it to a folder on your computer or phone's internal/external memory, and then open it from the index.html.

If you need to move it elsewhere, make sure you move the whole folder and not just the index.html. You can however always view it online in the Elimu Yetu Website here.


2. Swahili Kamusi in PDF

If you need a Kamusi in PDF format (Swahili to English) you can get one that has been assembled by Bob Beretta from the Google Site here.

If you fancy the idea of editing a dictionary, like adding your own words, there's also one in Rich Text Format (*.rtf) available from the same site. Just use Ms Word to edit it or WordPad if you don't have Office installed on your computer.


3. Stardict Format Swahili Dictionary

If you use a Stardict compatible dictionary app or program like Goldendict or ColorDict, you can get the free Swahili - English & English - Swahili stardict dictionaries from here. They are not through and don't have any definitions, but they're better than nothing if you use the stradict format.

If you've the technical knowhow it should be possible to convert the Wikamusi to the Stardict format in the same manner some have done for the Wiktionary.


4. Swahili Dictionary Apps

i. Android

There are couple of Swahili Dictionary apps available for android in the App Store. Since I can't review all of them here, I'd suggest you try a couple of them and see what suits you best.

You can skip over the Longhorn ones if you need something that is completely free. Also note that some of the apps may not available for phones  running old versions of Android like Gingerbread (2.3.x).

ii. iOS

On iOS I could only find this app. It could be worth a try as it's free though I haven't tested it.

iii. Windows Phone/Mobile

Windows phone tends to get left behind when it comes to apps but this time they are lucky. Try this offline dictionary by ProDict. It has both Swahili - English and English - Swahili Dictionaries and from my use it's quite fast.


Swahili Translation (Tafsiri) Dictionaries

As said  earlier, this makes up the bulk of the online dictionaries out there. Below is  a list of sites that offer English - Swahili and Swahili - English translation Dictionaries:
  1. Microsoft Translator (Android, Windows Phone & iOS Apps)
  2. Google Translate (Android & iOS Apps)
  3. Babylon - Swahili Dictionary
  4. Glosbe: The Multilingual Online Dictionary - This allows you to translate Swahili to other languages not just English.
  5. Kiswahili.net - Online Swahili and English Dictionaries
  6. African Languages Dictionary
  7. Lexilogos - This one combines some of the above dictionaries so that you can search any of them from one place.
This is just a few of them as it's not possible to include all of them here. If you have a good dicitionary that I've left out and you would like to share with the rest of us, just drop me a comment below and I'll add it to the list.

Kiswahili kitukuzwe, kisifukuzwe!

You Can Now Get CRB Clearance at Huduma Centres

Getting your CRB clearance certificate has up until recently been done online for the most part. At the moment there are about three Credit Reference Bureaus (CRB) that have been providing these services.

While this is convenient for people that have online access it locks out people that either lack this access or that are otherwise not tech-savvy enough to complete the application on their own.

Fortunately, Huduma Centre have now introduced CRB services at some of their centres in partnership with one of the CRB companies called Metropol. These services include application of CRB clearance certificate and the listing report to confirm one's credit score.

As a result, one will be able to apply for this certificate along with other clearances such as Certificate Good Conduct and EACC Clearance in one place.



Huduma Centres that Support CRB Clearance

crb huduma centres
CRB Services at Huduma Centres

The following Huduma Centres are the only ones that currently support CRB services (as of November 2018):
  1. GPO
  2. City Square
  3. Eastleigh
  4. Kibra
  5. Makadara
As you may have already noticed, all these Huduma Centres are within Nairobi. Therefore, for those outside Nairobi applying online is the only alternative until that time when CRB services are rolled out to Huduma centres in other regions.

To do that, you can check our post on applying for the CRB certificate online using one of the companies called TransUnion that allows for the application as well as checking one's credit score using their Nipashe android app.


Requirements to Get CRB Clearance at a Huduma Centres

This service is not free and attracts some processing fees. The requirements are:
  • Ksh.2200 for the certificate
  • National ID
  • Ksh.100 if you wish to check the listing report too
The Ksh.2200 fee is constant across all the CRBs. For those that choose to apply online will thus likewise have to part with a similar amount.

How to Apply for EACC Clearance Certificate

A clearance certificate from the Ethics & Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) is one of the 5 clearances outlined in the Chapter (6) of the constitution of Kenya. The remaining four include the KRA Compliance Certificate, Certificate of Good Conduct, HELB Compliance Certificate and Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) Clearance Certificate.

These clearances are often required when applying for National and County Government job positions however the EACC one is additionally required by those seeking elective posts.



Getting EACC Clearance

EACC Clearance Certificate

Unlike the other clearances which can be done online, the application process for a EACC clearance has to be done in person and no actual certificate is awarded.

Also, while the EACC clearance doesn't attract hefty charges as it's the case with the rest (save for KRA), it necessitates the services of a Commissioner for Oaths (Lawyer /Advocate) or Magistrate.


Step 1: Fill the EACC Clearance Form

1. Download the self-declaration form that is in PDF format from the EACC website and print two copies of it.

2. Fill the two forms but leave the last page (OATH & AFFIRMATION / KIAPO NA UTHIBITISHWA) unfilled.

3. Attach photocopies of your National Identity Card (ID) or Passport, your High School Certificate, Degree (if you have one) and KRA PIN Certificate to both copies.


Step 2: Commission the Form

1. Take the two copies with you to a lawyer or advocate.

2. The lawyer will fill the Oath & Affirmation page and ask you to put your signature in his/her presence. After this, the two copies will be stamped on the same page.

Note that this commissioning is not done for free (not unless the lawyer in question is a relative or friend). The cost will ultimately depend with the lawyer/law firm in question however generally speaking it's between Ksh.200 and Ksh.500.



Step 3: Submit the Commissioned Form

You can submit the commissioned form either to:
  • EACC Office, or
  • Huduma Centre. 
On submission you'll be left with one copy while the other will go to EACC. Use the remaining copy when going to the job interview or where the clearance was requested. EACC will provide details of your clearance to the office where the clearance was requested therefore no certificate is issued.

To submit to an EACC Office, drop the form at the Head EACC Office located at Integrity Centre in Nairobi or at any of the EACC Regional Offices in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Eldoret and Garissa.

To submit at a Huduma Centre, just go to one near you however note that not all may support EACC Clearance. As such you may want to confirm in advance with Huduma Care by calling 020 690 0020 or @HudumaKenya on Twitter.

If you're within Nairobi, you can submit your form at the GPO Huduma Centre.

How to Load KCB Pepea Card Using M-PESA

Pepea is a prepaid debit MasterCard that's offered by Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB). The Pepea Card can be used for various payments tasks such as shopping online to travelling and paying at point of sales.

Being a prepaid card, Pepea can be used by both KCB account holders and those without accounts. To facilitate this, KCB allows loading the Pepea card with money through the following ways:
  • At a KCB Branch
  • At KCB Mtaani Agents
  • Via KCB Mobile Banking
  • Via M-PESA

Loading the card with M-PESA is the most convenient choice of the three as its wireless and takes only a couple of minutes. Let's take a look at how to do this.



Debit KCB Pepea Card using M-PESA

kcb pepea card
KCB Pepea Card
1. Go to the Lipa na M-PESA (Paybill) option in your M-PESA menu.

2. Select the Pay Bill option.

3. Next select Enter business no. and enter 522522.

4. Now select Account. no then enter the 16-digit number of your Pepea Card.

4. Next enter the amount to top up your Pepea Card with.

5. Complete the transaction by entering your PIN.

You'll shortly after this get a confirmation SMS from M-PESA confirming the transaction and another one from KCB confirming the payment and your new card balance.
kcb sms
KCB SMS

You can however also check your balance by dialling *522*2# or *522# if you're a KCB account holder.

Should you not receive the top up or run into some other difficulty like forgetting your Pepea PIN, contact the KCB customer care at: 0732 187000, 0711 087000 or contactcentre@kcbgroup.com.


What are the Charges for Loading KCB Pepea with M-PESA?

When you load your Pepea Card with amounts equal to or less than Ksh.100 the transaction cost is 0 thanks to M-PESA Kadogo. For amounts above Ksh.100 the transaction charges rise sharply with Ksh.101 for instance incurring Ksh.23 and Ksh.1000 costing Ksh.34.

Thus, if you are transferring low amounts you may want to consider doing multiple transactions.

To check the current rates, dial *234# then go to: My M-PESA Information > Tariff Query > Lipa na M-PESA then enter 522522 as the Paybill Number followed by the amount you wish to transfer.

How to Activate End of Call Notification in Blaze Tariff

The end of call notification is a useful feature to keep track of your spending habits as a blazer. This service triggers a USSD notification at the end of your calls with a summary of:
  • the amount of airtime spent
  • the duration of the call and the
  • subsequent account balance
Safaricom had rolled out this awesome feature to the Blazers first however it's now available to the other subscribers on the Uwezo Tariff. Still, one has to activate it manually as it's not enabled automatically as it's the case in Airtel and Telkom.



Enable the Service on Blaze

end of call notification
End of Call Summary

1. Dial *555# to access the Blaze Menu.

2. In the Blaze USSD Menu reply with 98 for more then 8 for End of Call Notification.

3. Next reply with 1 to Opt-in into the notification. You should get a USSD message that you've successfully opted in to End of Call notification.
opt in
Opt into the Service

You'll now be getting a call summary at the end of your calls. To disable the end of call notification, go through the above steps but in the third step reply with 2 for Opt-out.

Safaricom Voicemail (Call Divert) Activation Codes

Safaricom provides it's customers with a voicemail service that enables their callers to leave voice messages when one is unavailable, is not answering or is currently on another call.

The voicemail service uses call divert (forwading) that redirects the incoming calls to certain numbers, hence the name voicemail diverts. Safaricom provides the following four voicemail diverts:
  • Unreachable (e.g phone is switched off or in poor network conditions)
  • No Reply (not picking up the call)
  • Busy (on another call)
  • All (all the above diverts)

One can either activate all the voicemail diverts or specific ones as needed. Activation is done using specific call divert numbers that are dialled in the same way as the normal Safaricom USSD codes. You can also deactivate Safricom's voicemail diverts using a different set of codes. Let's take a look at both of them.



Voicemail Activation and Retrieval Codes

safaricom voicemail diverts
Voicemail Diverts
VoicemailUSSD CODEFunction
Activate Voicemail*222#Activates all voicemail diverts.
Activate Voicemail 1**62*0722122#Activates voicemail when Unreachable.
Activate Voicemail 2**61*0722122#Activates voicemail when there is No Reply.
Activate Voicemail 3**67*0722122# Activates voicemail when Busy (on another call).
Retrieve VoicemailsCall 111Listen to your voicemail messages. (Note: Default voicemail PIN is 1234).
Activate Missed Call Alert Service*62*0722199199#Get SMS alerts on missed calls when unreachable (I tried to call you at…. Please call me back) Note: This also activates Voicemail Type 1 (when unreachable). More info

Voicemail Deactivation Codes

VoicemailUSSD CODEFunction
Deactivate Voicemail##002#Deactivates all voicemail diverts.
Deactivate Voicemail 1##62#Deactivates voicemail when Unreachable.
Deactivate Voicemail 2##61#Deactivates voicemail when there is No Reply.
Deactivate Voicemail 3##67#Deactivates voicemail when Busy (on another call).
Retrieve VoicemailsCall 111Listen to your voicemail messages. (Note: Default voicemail PIN is 1234).
Deactivate Missed Call Alert Service##62#Deactivates the missed call alert service along with voicemail when unreachable.
Other Short Codes:

Safaricom Call Barring (Blocking) Activation Codes

Call Barring is a feature that is used to block all calls or SMS of a certain type e.g. all incoming or outgoing calls. This service is provided by the network operator and therefore can be accessed by any subscriber regardless of their phone type.

Barring however cannot be used to block calls or SMS from specific numbers. For that you may need to install a call blocking app however some Android phones and Windows Phone do come with a call blocking (filter) feature.

Safaricom provides the options to bar the following call and SMS types:
  • Incoming or Outgoing Calls
  • Incoming or Outgoing Calls When Roaming
  • Incoming or Outgoing SMS
  • International Calls

To activate or deactivate any of these one uses specific codes that are dialled just like normal USSD codes. Let's take a look at them.



Call and SMS Barring Activation Codes

safaricom call barring
Call Barring (Blocking)
BarringUSSD CODEFunction
Bar All Bar All Outgoing Calls*33*0000# Blocks all outgoing calls.
Bar All Incoming Calls*35*0000#Blocks all incoming calls.
Bar Incoming Calls When Roaming*351*0000# Blocks all incoming calls when roaming (outside the country).
Bar All Incoming Calls Except Home Calls (when Roaming)*332*0000#Blocks all incoming calls when roaming except those coming from your country.
Bar All International Calls*331*0000#Blocks all international calls.
Bar All Outgoing SMS*33*0000*16#Blocks all outgoing SMS text messages.
Bar All Incoming SMS*35*0000*16# Blocks all incoming SMS text messages.

Call and SMS Barring Deactivation Codes

BarringUSSD CODEFunction
Deactivate Bar All Bar All Outgoing calls#33*0000# Deactivates the blocking of all outgoing calls.
Deactivate Bar All Incoming Calls#35*0000# Deactivates the blocking of all incoming calls.
Deactivate Bar Incoming Calls When Roaming#351*0000#Deactivates the blocking of all incoming calls when roaming.
Deactivate Bar All Incoming Calls Except Home Calls (when Roaming)#332*0000# Deactivates the blocking of all incoming except home calls when roaming.
Deactivate Bar All International Calls#331*0000#Deactivates the blocking of all international calls.
Deactivate Bar All Outgoing SMS#33*0000*16# Deactivates the blocking of all outgoing SMS text messages.
Deactivate Bar All Incoming SMS#35*0000*16#Deactivates the blocking of all incoming SMS text messages.
Deactivate All Barring#330*0000#Deactivates all types of barring that may have been activated.
Other Short Codes:

How to Activate Safaricom's Data Save

Safaricom's added a new feature called Data Save in it their revamped My Data Manager service. The Data Save feature saves data by lowering the speeds at which you connect to the internet.

This feature is useful in data bundle management as the high speeds provided by 3G, 4G/LTE and 4G+ connections may download a lot of content before you can take action. This is especially true of streaming content and automatic downloads such as software updates in smartphones.

For example, streaming sites (e.g. YouTube) will usually default to the highest quality of a video (HD formats) if they detect you are on a fast network and higher quality equals more data. By capping the speeds one can therefore use less data depending on their kind of usage.

Users of some popular social media apps may also save data by using some of Safaricom's Swift Squad tips.



Enable Safaricom's Data Save

safaricom data save
Safaricom's Data Save

Enabling this service will lower the maximum speed at which you can browse and download content from the internet. Safaricom doesn't specify the maximum download and upload speeds when this service is activated however the fellows at Techweez have tested it and estimate it’s around 1mbps.

1. Dial *544#, go the next page by replying with 98 followed by 11 for My Data Manager. You can also dial *456*7# then select Data Manager.

2. Next reply with 1 for the first option: Data Save.
select data save
Select Data Save

3. Finally reply with 1 for Save data by reducing speed then confirm by selecting Accept.
select first option
Select First Option

You should then get a notification that you'll now browse and download on reduced speeds.


How to Deactivate Data Save

If you want to restore the normal full speeds for faster browsing and downloading, go to the Data Save menu as explained above then select the second option "Full speeds for faster downloads". Confirm by choosing accept and you should get a message that you'll now browse and download on full speeds.

How to Activate Safaricom's My Data Manager

Safaricom's My Data Manager is a feature that allows subscribers to control their data bundle usage. The basic function of this feature is an Out of Bundle Management feature that restricts data usage to only active bundles. This way data is NOT charged from the subscriber account's airtime once a data bundle is exhausted while browsing or downloading/uploading content.

This has been the only function up until recently when Safaricom added a new feature in Data Manager called Data Save. The Data Save feature works differently by throttling down the maximum speed at which one can connect to the internet. It's therefore a useful companion to this feature as one not only gets to save their airtime but also use less data.



Enable My Data Manager

My Data Manager
My Data Manager
To enable My Data Manager feature that prevents billing data from your airtime after your bundle gets finished do the following:

A. For Your Number

1. Dial *544# and go the next page then reply with 11 for My Data Manager. Alternatively, you can dial *456*7# then select Data Manager.
my data manager ussd
My Data Manager USSD

2. Next reply with 2 for the second option "Don’t Browse without a data bundle".
second option
Select second option

3. In the next page reply with 1 to Activate the service. You should get a notification that Data Manager has been activated.



For Another Number

1. In My Data Manager menu reply with 4 for Activate/Deactivate for other Number.
activate data manager
Activate Service

2. Reply with 1 for Activate.

3. Next reply with the Safaricom number of the other user. You'll then get a notification that Data Manager has been activated for that number.


How to Deactivate My Data Manager

To disable My Data Manager just go through the steps for enabling but in the menu options select Deactivate instead. You can likewise disable the service for another number in the same menu it's activated by selecting the Deactivate option.