A lot of words in modern Swahili are pretty much just English words pronounced in a Kiswahili way. One of the most popular ways to “Swahili-ize” a word is to add a vowel to the end. The long e sound (which is the letter i in Swahili pronunciation) is heavily utilized. So what do you think this word in the title is?
It’s change, as in the money you get back at a store.
That’s what I spend a lot of my time waiting for at the market: change. The largest denomination of Tanzanian currency is a 10,000 Shilling bill. It’s worth about $7.50. At the market, they don’t use cash registers, obviously. So the stall owners have their money tucked away in their clothes or hidden somewhere in the clutter of their stall. It’s really the luck of the draw if they have the right bills to make change for a 10,000 bill. If they don’t have the right change, then they take two 5,000 bills or whatever they have and start moving along the market aisles, asking their neighbor vendors if they have change. It can take quite a while, but it always works out in the end. If I am in a hurry at the market, though, I make sure that I take small bills with me so that I don’t have to stand around waiting for changei.