[I'm building a small soccer field in my back yard. We moved a bunch of dirt around to make the yard level. Then we added manure and planted grass. The grass is growing, but it'll be three or four months before we can play on it, I think. But that's all besides the point -- just a little aside.]
Five Tanzanian guys helped to plant the grass on the soccer field; and we got it all done in one day. Christie and I wanted to feed the guys a good Tanzanian meal, so we asked Margaret to cook for the guys — and to cook something they’d really enjoy. She did. And the guys anxiously awaited lunch.
Once we were all washed up and the food was set out, we decided to pray. Not all these guys are religious, so I asked Kulwa (a Christian) to pray before our meal. After some discussion as to whether he should pray in Sukuma or Swahili (Swahili was decided upon), he bowed his head and began by saying:
Translation: ”We should thank him (or her).” Or even “Let’s thank him (or her).”
See that little ‘m’ towards the beginning of the word? That’s a direct object marker; it tells us we’re thanking a single person (or being, in this case). Kulwa could have said, “Tumshukuru Mungu,” and it would have been a very specific, “Let’s thank (him) God.”
But the him is assumed when preparing to pray, right?
Not if you’re Oscar, one of the other guys in the group — one who was not so accustomed to praying before meals. He heard, “Let’s thank him/her,” and quickly responded aloud, interrupting Kulwa’s prayer with an emphatic, “Thank you, Margaret!”
We all had a good laugh. [Except maybe Kulwa who possibly thought Oscar's comments sacrilegious.] In the end, though, God was thanked, Margaret was thanked, the guys where thanked, and I’m going to have a beautiful (yet small) soccer field.
Also, it’s always a good idea to thank both God AND the cook for the food.