You are looking at the world's only Swahili clock!
What is Swahili time? Why is this clock unique? How do I get one for my wall?
What is Swahili time? Swahili speakers count time differently than most of the world. In Swahili Time, 1 o'clock in the morning is the first hour after sunrise (what everyone else calls 7:00 a.m.), and 1 o'clock at night is the first hour after sunset (what the rest of the world calls 7:00 p.m.). Why? Because most Swahili speakers live close to the equator, and on the equator the sun rises and sets at the same time every day of the year. Unlike countries far from the equator, where sunrise in June might occur at 4:30 a.m and sunrise in December might be at 8:30 a.m., the sunrise in the Swahili speaking world is so consistent that you can set your clock by it - so people do.
Why is this clock unique? Although Swahili speakers all say the hours in Swahili Time, no watch or clock has ever been designed especially for their way of telling time. Instead, Swahili speakers (and speakers of nearby African languages that tell time similarly) use standard clocks, set with the hands in the standard position, and add or subtract six hours when they read the time. For example, a Swahili speaker would look at a standard clock at noon, with the little hand pointing to the 12, and say, "It's 6 o'clock" ("Ni saa sita"). With the Swahili Time Wall Clock, we've moved the numbers to the correct position to tell Swahili time. In the picture above, given the position of the hands, a Swahili speaker would say that it is 4:10, so that's what we've designed our clock to say. As far as we know, this is the only clock in the world that tells Swahili Time.
How do I get one for my wall? The Swahili Time Wall Clock is available from the Kamusi Project Duka, a shop we've set up on Cafe Press to raise funds for the Kamusi Project. (You can also purchase Kamusi Project shirts, caps, mugs, and bags...) We earn $15 for every clock we sell - so buy one for your home, one for your office, one for your local library, one for your favorite child's classroom, and one for everybody on your holiday gift list!
The clock comes in five sizes in our signature logo design, or three with the original dictionary entry style:
If you are travelling to East Africa, the Swahili Time Wall Clock is an especially fantastic gift to leave with your Swahili-speaking friends. It is light weight, easy to pack, runs on just one AA battery, is sure to be appreciated, and is not available in Africa at any price.
We need to sell a lot of clocks in order to pay for continued improvements to the Kamusi Project. Please buy several - and tell your friends!
Editor's Note: The first clock that we purchased for the office - the very first Swahili clock ever made - has been running perfectly for years. However, it came with one slight mechanical flaw - sometimes the second hand bumped into the minute hand, causing the clock to lose time. If this happens to you, it is easy to fix. We popped the back off the clock, and used a regular pair of scissors to shorten the second hand until it no longer bumped. This shouldn't happen to you, but we thought we should mention how to fix it, just in case.