Literally translated it meant “someone who roams around” or “wanderer. The term was first used lingala swahili dictionary pdf the African Great Lakes region to describe European explorers in the 18th century, apparently as a result of their extensive travelling all over the world. The word Mzungu in Swahili can also mean someone who speaks English.
However, in some areas, such as in Rwanda and Burundi, it does not necessarily refer to the colour of one’s skin. Traditionally, Europeans were seen to be people of means and rich and so the terminology was extended to denote affluent persons regardless of race. It would therefore not be unusual to find any employer being referred to as “mzungu. It has now come to mean “language of the wanderers” and more commonly English, as it is the language most often used by Wazungu in the African Great Lakes. However it can be used generally for any European language. Western culture, cuisine and lifestyle.
Mzungu can be used in an affectionate or insulting way. It is often called out by children to get the attention of a passerby. Though the literal translation is “red”, the underlying translation is “aggressor”, referring to colonialism and the plundering of local resources by the “white people. The terms “mzungu” and “mlungu” are sometimes erroneously used interchangeably. Whilst mzungu generally refers to a white person, mlungu refers to the white foam ejected from an animal’s vagina when in heat and is only used in a derogatory sense. The term is similar to “vloeibees”, directly translated as “flow-beast”, referring to a beast in “flow” or heat in Afrikaans. This page was last edited on 10 November 2017, at 12:41.