- Written by Queen Munguti for Kenyakidz
Kenyan pre-schoolers have a chance to preserve their culture and enhance their early stage education by learning nursery rhymes in Swahili. This is thanks to Zahra Didarali who has just released an album titled 'Swahili Nursery Rhymes'.
"Most of the songs are in Kiswahili and English as an attempt to craft an easier and creative way for children of all backgrounds to learn the language , with the ultimate aim of preserving the culture in our country,” said Salimah Didarali of A.I Records where Zahra's album was produced.
The album is comprised of 12 popular rhymes such as Old McDonald, Row row your boat, Mary had a little lamb among others that have been translated into Kiswahili (Mzee Odhiambo. endesha melikabu, Maria alikuwa na kondoo mdogo). It also comprises six bonus rhymes which are originally in Kiswahili emphasizing the use of the home language in learning.
According to a research in Early Grade Reading (EGRA) it showed that pupils who develop reading skills early in their home language, in this case Kiswahili, will develop reading and writing skills in a new language faster because the skills and concepts taught in the learners’ home language do not have to be re-taught when they transfer to a second language. The learner already knows that letters represent sounds, the only new learning they would need is how the new language ‘sounds’ its letters thus they will transfer knowledge acquired in one language to another language as soon as they have learned sufficient vocabulary in the new language (Professor Angelina Kioko).
Nursery rhymes are also a great way to learn and it is through her CD that Zahra hopes to enhace early childhood education in Kenya. A case study titled; “Nursery rhymes, phonological skills and reading” found that there was a strong correlation between children’s spelling abilities, their understanding and knowledge of words and simple sentences, and their knowledge of nursery rhymes.
It concluded that the short format and repetitious nature of nursery rhymes can help children become better at reading because the rhymes and stories teach them how language works; it also builds memory capabilities that will help in their academic work as they grow.
This is the premier album for Zahra but definitely not the last. The 19 year old musician who is currently studying Environmental Science and Mathematics, says she has a passion of protecting the earth and to make a positive difference in the society through music.
The music album goes for Sh699 and can be found at Nakumatt outlets.