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mlungu, umlungu, noun and adjective

Forms:
malonga, malooongaShow more singular malonga, malooonga, malunga, mlungu, moloonga, moolongo, mulungu, simlunga, umlunga, umlungo, umlungu; plural abalongo, abalongu, abaloongu, abalungu, abehlungu, abelungu, malongoes, melongas, melonggoes, mlungus, umlungi, umlungos, umlungus.
Plurals:
usually abelungu /abeˈlʊ(ː)nɡʊ/, /æbəˈlʊ(ː)nɡʊ/, or mlungus.
Origin:
Xhosa, ZuluShow more Xhosa and Zulu umlungu (plural abelungu, singular vocative mlungu), perhaps from lunga get or be in order, become or be correct or good; or related tothe noun stem -lungu canoe, ship, found in some other Sintu (Bantu) languages; for notes on singular and plural forms, see aba-, abe-, and um-.
A. noun
1. A white person. Cf. Lekgoa.
Note:
Used especially in the context of interactions between black and white South Africans. Now often derogatory or ironic, especially as used by black writers.
1826 A.G. Bain Jrnls (1949) 108The next also chose the Malunga, or white man, and of course I took the hint to kiss the hand of my fair one.
1992 W. Knowler in Weekend Mercury 4 Jan. 6Everyone seemed to be having far too good a time to worry about two stray umlungus.
2. singular, often without an article. White people collectively.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 349How oft on Abaloongu’s race were threats and bitter curses heaped.
1988 O. Musi in Frontline Oct. 32It did strike me that the white guy singing lustily alongside would probably change his tune if he found me at the bar of the nearby Royal Hotel. That place had been a mlungu-only haven for ever.
3. As a term of address: ‘white person’.
1855 G.H. Mason Life with Zulus 121A simultaneous exclamation of Molonga! Molonga! (white man! white man!) was succeeded by an universal beckon for me to come in.
1955 J.B. Shephard Land of Tikoloshe 76My friend went on. ‘I don’t call him “Jim” or “Boy” but “Umteto”, his real name. That is polite, but if I called him “Kaffir” he would, quite rightly, think I was being rude, and then he would probably call me “Umlungu” — White man — and that would be rude too.’
4. rare. A member of a people of the Transkei coast (see quotation).
1945 N. Devitt People & Places 124In various parts of the coastal areas, and in particular about 60 miles west of St. John is to be found a small tribe of natives known as the Abelungu (the white men). Ironically enough these people are of an extremely dark pigmentation. They pride themselves on their racial forbears. They contend they are descendants of white men, ship-wrecked people.
B. adjectivea. Of a person: white. b. Of or pertaining to white people.
1973 Drum 22 Dec. 40Those faces of the hurt Mlungu reporters also keep playing tricks with my imagination. Something’s gotta be done.
1990 O. Musi in City Press 17 June 9What do I see the other day — and on a mlungu newspaper’s front page, no less — but three uniformed white cops giving that old ANC sign.
A white person.
White people collectively.
‘white person’.
A member of a people of the Transkei coast (see quotation).
Of a person: white.
Of or pertaining to white people.

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18261992