How to Say Hello in Several African Languages

Moroccan Herdsman Waving Hello
Stanislav Solntsev/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Part of the thrill of foreign travel is experiencing another country's culture, and the best way to do that is to interact with the local people. Communicating can be difficult in Africa, a continent with between 1,500 and 2,000 African languages. But even a few words or phrases go a long way, and the best place to start is at the beginning—with "hello." In this article, we look at some of the greetings used across the continent, organized by country to make the list easy to navigate. Most African nations employ countless different greetings, with each one representing a different race, people or tribe.

Here, we've listed the most commonly used greetings, some of which may be repeated from one country to the next. 

Note: Where multiple languages are spoken, only the official or most prominent language is included.

How to Say "Hello" In...

  • Portuguese: Olá (Hello), Bom dia (Good morning), Boa tarde (Good afternoon), Boa noite (Good evening)
  • Setswana: Dumela mma (Hello to a woman), Dumela rra (Hello to a man)
  • English: Hello

Burkina Faso

  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • Mossi: Ne y yibeogo! (Good morning)
  • Dyula: ​I ni sogoma (Good morning)

Cameroon

  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • English: Hello

Cote d'Ivoire

  • French: Bonjour
  • Arabic: As-Salaam-Alaikum (Peace be unto you)
  • Amharic: Teanastëllën (Hello, formal), Tadiyass (Hello, informal)
  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • Fang: M'bole (Hello to one person), M'bolani (Hello to several people)
  • English: Hello
  • Twi: Maakyé (Good morning)
  • Swahili: Jambo (Hello), Habari (How's it going?)
  • English: Hello

Lesotho

  • Sesotho: Lumela (Hello to one person), Lumelang (Hello to several people)
  • English: Hello
  • Arabic: As-Salaam-Alaikum (Peace be unto you)
  • Malagasy: Salama (Hello), M'bola tsara (Hello)
  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • Chichewa: Moni (Hello)
  • English: Hello
  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • Bambara: I ni ce (Hello)

Mauritania

  • Arabic: As-Salaam-Alaikum (Peace be unto you)
  • Hassaniya: Aw'walikum (Hello)
  • Arabic: As-Salaam-Alaikum (Peace be unto you)
  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • Portuguese: Olá (Hello), Bom dia (Good morning), Boa tarde (Good afternoon), Boa noite (Good evening)
  • English: Hello
  • Afrikaans: Hallo (Hello)
  • Oshiwambo: Mwa lele po (Hello)
  • English: Hello
  • Hausa: Sànnu (Hello)
  • Igbo: Ibaulachi (Hello)
  • Yoruba: Bawo (Hello)
  • Kinyarwanda: Muraho (Hello)
  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • English: Hello
  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • Wolof: Nanga def (How are you?)

Sierra Leone

  • English: Hello
  • Krio: Kushe (Hello)
  • Zulu: Sawubona (Hello)
  • Xhosa: Molo (Hello)
  • Afrikaans: Hallo (Hello)
  • English: Hello

Sudan

  • Arabic: As-Salaam-Alaikum (Peace be unto you)

Swaziland

  • Swati: Sawubona (Hello)
  • English: Hello
  • Swahili: Jambo (Hello), Habari (How's it going?)
  • English: Hello

Togo

  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • French: Bonjour (Hello)
  • Arabic: As-Salaam-Alaikum (Peace be unto you)
  • Luganda: Oli otya (Hello)
  • Swahili: Jambo (Hello), Habari (How's it going?)
  • English: Hello
  • English: Hello
  • Bemba: Muli shani (How are you?)
  • English: Hello
  • Shona: Mhoro (Hello)
  • Ndebele: Sawubona (Hello)
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