kibaba [Swahili]

[Plural, vibaba] In Tanzania, at least as early as the 19th century – 20th century, a unit of capacity. The government of Tanganyika reported to the United Nations, mid 20th century, that the kibaba = 1 liter¹, but other observers in the same period, and earlier, record it as “about an [imperial] pint.”²

Four vibaba = 1 pishi.

1. United Nations 1966. Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 318.

2. D. V. Perrott.
Teach Yourself Swahili.
English Universities Press, 1957.

Page 152.


The smallest unit is the Kibaba, a measure of perhaps a pint.
Kibaba cha tele, if the measure is heaped up — the usual proceeding.
Kibaba cha mfuto, if cut off flat.
2 vibaba (vya tele) = 1 kisaga.
2 visaga = 1 pishi, about half a gallon.

Edward Steere.
A Handbook of the Swahili Language as Spoken at Zanzibar. 3rd ed.
London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1884.
Page 457.

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