Karibu is a phrase you hear often around here. For Malawians, Karibu (in Chichewa) means, “You’re welcome to my food.” If someone is eating, they will often say to the people around them, “Karibu” – meaning, “Help yourself.” And they mean it. Fully. Wholly. Freely. Help yourself. Who cares how much you take, or how many of you actually “help yourself.” Karibu.
To other Africans, like people living in Dzaleka, Karibu means “You are welcome here (in Swahili).” When you arrive somewhere, whether it be to Africa or to someone’s house, they will say, “Karibu” or “Karibu ndani,” which means “Welcome inside.” When I first arrived in Malawi, people would often say, “Yes, you are welcome.” I would think, “Um I didn’t say ‘thank you,’ but thanks!!” But what they meant was that I was welcome in their space.
It’s a phrase I’ve come to use a lot and an idea I’ve come to love – a phrase I find endearing.
I love that when people offer their food, they mean it.
I love that when people say, “You are welcome here,” it’s true.
Karibu is something I want to be better at saying and meaning and reflecting.
Something I am learning (read: something I want to be better at doing) is to welcome people into my life, my time, my space… the community of God, more freely – to say, with my words and with my presence, “You. Are. Welcome. Here.”
>>I used a photo of my most recent favorite sunset, because what is more inviting? If you look really closely, you can see elephants in the distance.