Habari ghani?

There’s a growing buzz about something called Habari, so I suppose I need to write something about how, what, and why.

First of all, the name. Habari is Swahili. It means “news”, as in “what’s the news?” or “What’s happening?” or “How are you?” Thus, when you greet someone:

Jambo! (Hello!)
Habari? (What’s up?)
Mzuri. (Things are good.)

Secondly, unlike some languages, Swahili has just 5 vowels. Thus, everything is pronounced *exactly* how it is spelled.

A is AH as in father
E is AY as in table
I is EE as in seed
O is OH as in goat
U as OO as in boot

And the next-to-last syllable is stressed.

In this particular case, the r is lightly rolled.

Thus, Habari has the same vowels as the word wasabi.

I will, at some point, post an mp3 or wav file of the correct pronunciation, but I have my recording gear in a bag, and I’m too tired to set it up right now, and I think I have a bit of a head cold coming on anyways.

Ok, so on to Habari the software project. Why’d we call it Habari? Well, because I grew up in Kenya, and it seemed like a cool name to choose for a product that allows us to tell our readers what the news is.

Yes, there is another project with a very similar name, and in a slightly similar space. We had intended to get in touch with them. I don’t know if we ever did.

Why are we doing this? The reasons are myriad, and some of them are discussed on the Motivations page, so I won’t rehash them. There has been a boatload of speculation in a variety of forums about why we, the Founding Fathers, would choose to leave WordPress and do something different. These speculations range from the mundane (we wanted to start fresh and explore new ideas) to the absurd (we were bitter about not being offered jobs at Automattic). The former is the real truth. The latter gave me a good chuckle, and so wasn’t a complete waste of bits. 😉

Yes, there were frustrations that we wanted to get away from. And there were philosophical differences about how an Open Source community should be run. But there is no ill-will towards WordPress, even where there are differences of opinion on the Right Way to do things. In Open Source, done right, it’s not harmful to have two healthy projects in the same space. When licenses are sensible the projects can learn from one another, improve on each other’s ideas, and have healthy competition, as well as striving for interop. I see no downside, if we can continue to coexist in a friendly rivalry.

What blows me away is how much we’ve been able to accomplish in so short a time.

Yes, I’m still running WordPress. This is primarily because I have been hugely preoccupied for the last two months, and have simply not been able to take the time to do computerish things. The migration is really quite simple and semi-trivial, and I might go ahead and do it tonight, since I have a few moments. If I wasn’t so very tired.

Maybe tomorrow.