You are currently viewing Mzungu, lete Mzungu – Tanzania is happy to see you!
I am welcomed at the market: "Mzungu - lete Mzungu"

Mzungu, lete Mzungu – Tanzania is happy to see you!

Mzungu, Lete Mzungu – you will often hear these words in Tanzania. UnboxingTanzania shows you what nickname is already waiting for you.

Mzungu and Football?

Tanzania is crazy about football (I know you can also call it soccer, but we’ll just stick to football here). Whether Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga or the local Tanzanian Premier League, Tanzanians absorb it. When there’s a game to watch, the bars are full and people cheer their teams loudly.

In Britain there is Manchester vs. Liverpool, in Spain Real vs. Barcelona and in Germany Bayern vs. Dortmund. In Tanzania, hearts beat particularly fast when the Tanzanian Premier League scheduled a game Simba vs. Yanga. For years, these two teams have competed for the titles in the league. No wonder, Tanzania goes wild when they play. Even the Dala Dala`s (upcoming Post: Dala Dala) are decorated in the colours of the clubs and bring the fans to the stadium.

What does football have to do with mzungu? Well, not much. The original meaning of mzungu can be translated as wanderer and was more commonly used in connection with spirits. However, in Swahili today, it has the simple meaning “white man” or “white woman” and sometimes Mzungu also describes foreigners in general.

We got used to our nickname. We live in a part of Dar es Salaam that rarely sees tourists. As soon as we leave our apartment, the streets ring with “mzungu, mzungu”. Children come running towards us and greet us with “Mzungu”, followed by a “Shikamoo” (post to come: unboxing the Greeting “Shikamoo”).

Lete Mzungu call and dance on the Takataka Lorry
Mzungu call and dance on the Takataka Lorry

People waiting at the side of the road for the DalaDalas or standing at the market and those who say “Mzungu” in the bars and shops are happy about our visit. Since the start of this year’s football season (2022), the greeting changed a bit to “Mzungu, Lete Mzungu”. And that brings us back to the beginning of the story – football.

Mzungu and Football!

Simba, one of the football clubs in Dar es Salaam, introduced their team at the beginning of the season. The players are called individually by name. As soon as the professional is named, he comes through the players’ tunnel onto the soccer field and is euphorically welcomed by the fans. But then the stadium announcer stumbles. He cannot pronounce the name on his piece of paper “Georgijevic Dejan”. Georgijevic Dejan is a Serbian professional footballer who joined Simba this season. Without further ado, he decides to introduce the player with “Lete Mzungu”.

A few weeks later, Simba plays against Yanga and is 2-1 behind. Now the Simba fans rise from the ranks and loudly demand “Lete Mzungu”. Georgijevic Dejan is a Serbian football player who has been playing for Simba since this season. “Lete (bring) Mzungu” is the request to the coach to send the white player to the field. He complied with this request. Still Simba lost this game 2-1.

Since then, in every Simba game you hear the song “Lete Mzungu” accompanied by a little dance. Also, on the streets of Buza one hears it over and over again. Not because Simba is playing, but because we are once again strolling the streets and are greeted by football fans. And yes, sometimes we dance with them.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. David

    Juhu, endlich geht’s los mit dem Blog! Viel Erfolg weiterhin und Grüße aus der alten Heimat 🙂

  2. Steve

    I like this story and am happy for Chris that he’s able to watch his favorite team even in Tanzania. Maybe you guys can visit one Simba match and share those experience too. I wonder if they also use the vuvuzela to heat up the mood and support their teams. Many greetings. Enjoy!

Comments are closed.