How to Say Hello in Several African Languages

Moroccan Herdsman Waving Hello
••• A herdsman in Morocco. 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, organised 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 languages are 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)

Ghana

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)

Article updated by Jessica Macdonald on August 12th 2016.