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6 Words That Originated From Africa

6 Words That Originated From Africa

Africa does have a significant influence on the world contrary to popular belief. Most people hear the word “Africa” and instantly associate it with negative thoughts. Below we explore 5 African words we use in our daily lives and what they mean. First of all is 


Arochukwu Long Juju: A brief walk into a forgotten temple of judgment |  Pulse Nigeria

Meaning: a charm or fetish, especially of a type used by some West African peoples.
supernatural power attributed to a charm or fetish. This is used a lot in movies or when people want to refer to something magical or unexplainable. Quite surprising when you realize this term was taken from the Yoruba language in Nigeria. 

Another term related to this is Juju Man. Basically a fetish priest or medicine man. who is basically responsible for creating those charms. or basically anyone associated with the Juju act. You get the gist of it.

Origin: Yoruba (Nigeria)

2. Jenga

The History Around The Game of Jenga | Jenga History | Giant Jenga

The word “Jenga” has been associated with the building game that has become popular wide around the world. The rules are quite easy to follow

“the game is first set up by its participants who stack three wooden blocks together in one direction. Then, three more blocks are placed on top facing the perpendicular to the blocks underneath. The pattern resumes until a 54-block tower is ultimately formed. When the game begins, each participant to takes a turn removing one of the blocks not located on the top three levels and places it on top of the tower without knocking it down, thus building the tower higher and higher.” You can read more about it Here.

The word “Jenga” actually originated from Africa. It is derived from the Swahili word “Kujenga” which means “to build”. Basically the point of the actual jenga game.

3. Safari

What is an African Safari? Safaris in Africa Explained

Meaning: an expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat, especially in East Africa.

We have all probably heard of this one. People taking safaris and all that. The luxury life and also quite educative. Quite surprising when we found out it was a Swahili word. The way it is used widely around the world, you would think it originated from the west

Origin: Kiswahili/Swahili


words that originated from africa

Meaning: A religion that is derived from African polytheism and ancestor worship and is practiced chiefly in Haiti.

This term, similar to Juju or Juju Man is normally associated with witchcraft or magical practices. However it is different. This is more of a religion instead of a charm or object. It is still practiced in most countries in West Africa. The word originally originated from the Ewe & Fon language in Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria

5. Zombie

Zombie Apocalypse - No Problem

Meaning: A will-less and speechless human (as in voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated | A mixed drink made of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice.

We all love zombies, especially in video games. They are fun to kill, headshot and all the other ways you could imagine. We bet you never would’ve imagined the term “zombie” actually originated from Africa. It’s taken from the Bantu language and has a wider range of meanings.

Fela Kuti also has a song titled Zombie. Listen to it Here


Ebony Wood

Ebony is a dense black/brown hardwood, most commonly yielded by several species in the genus Diospyros, which also contains the persimmons. It can also be used to describe something that has a very deep dark color. The word “Ebony” was originally originally derived from the Ancient Egyptian word “Hebeni”.

That’s it for words that originated from Africa. We hope you enjoyed the list and discovered something new



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