Generational Kin Term Uses
The terms for members of the child generation are basically the same for all kin on both sides. The females are referred to as binti and the males as mwana, with the latter term sometimes used for children of both sexes. I
found no use of terms differentiating among child generation kin on any basis other than sex, but explanations are added ("the child of my sister" or "the child of my mother's brother's son") when needed.
The terms for parents are extended in an interesting way to members of the child generation. A crying child is comforted by, among other ways, being addressed as baba (father) or mama (mother) by his or her parents or older siblings. Informants say this is done to give the child respect or prestige (heshima ) and, thereby, cheer him or her. The fact that little boys of ten or less are sometimes addressed as Bwana Mkubwa (or the diminutive of that, Chubwa, meaning Great Sir or Great Lord) seems to serve the same function, since this same term is used not only for rich men, political officials, and important employers but also for the father's father, the mother's father, and, sometimes, for others called Babu (grandfather).
Child terms are extended outside the family to children, particularly members of other ethnic groups, from whom favors are being asked. Swahili women, especially older ones, have a particular, ingratiating inflection they use in addressing an unrelated child as Mwanangu (my son) when they are trying to get the child to run errands for them.
Grandchildren are spoken to in a quite familiar way, and relations between grandparents and grandchildren are ideally and actually warm, friendly, and as nearly egalitarian as they can easily be given the differences in resources and physical abilities. A grandparent who is present when a grandchild is scolded or punished will, especially if the punishing parent is the grandparent's child, take the child's side and urge the parent to forgive him or her. I heard a grandmother tell her daughter in what appeared a serious way that it would be better if she, the grandmother, were punished rather than the grandchild for what the latter had done to annoy the mother.