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.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 245Being informed of my intentions and asked if he had any message to the Great Chief of the Abalungu (white people — literally people who do right).
1836 N. Isaacs Trav. (1937) II.He conversed with me..on..the bravery of the Malongoes or white people.
1856 R.J. Mullins Diary. 22 Oct.I said his people would then eat aloe leaves. He said ‘They will not, they will steal and then there will be war, but he would go to the Abalongu.’
1859 B. in Cape Monthly Mag. V. Jan. 43These princesses came to beg a present from the Umlungu (white man).
1875 D. Leslie Among Zulus 9I heard that a Moloonga, with a boy, had just passed the day before.
1889 Mynheer Stals in H.A. Bryden Kloof & Karroo 63It could only have been English ūmlūngos or drunken men who would have taken the drift on such a night. [Note] ūmlūngos is a very expressive Kaffir word, signifying a sort of gentlemanly know-nothing or green-horn.
1899 A. Werner Captain of Locusts 193I bade him begone; and he began to utter evil words of the abelungu.
1910 J. Angove In Early Days 68They would get as many diamonds as they could, in order to ingratiate themselves with the ‘umlungu’, who took such a great interest in them.
1919 Illust. London News (U.K.) 17 Oct. 5We must therefore avoid waiting for the Abelungu to do everything for us: we must help ourselves and he will think the better of us.
1961 D. Bee Children of Yesterday 284Who knows how these doctors of the Abelungu keep blood in bottles for so long that they can take it from one man this month and put it in another man the next month?
1973 Sunday Times 22 July 16Near Ixopo we spoke to Norman Mkwayane who has worked for R6 a month for the past 18 years without leave. He said the mlungu ‘became angry’ when workers asked for leave — so he never asked.
1980 M. Matshoba in M. Mutloatse Forced Landing 115‘We live like hogs, wild dogs or any other neglected animals. The pets of abeLungu live better then we,’ Somdali would say to me.
1983 C.Z. Rolo in Daily Dispatch 23 June 24We blacks don’t hate whites. We love them and call them umlungu (good person).
1987 I. Fynn in Sowetan 5 May 6Black South Africans must be relieved that the all-white election is almost over. Whites themselves probably feel the same way...It’s a wonder the mlungus haven’t called for a general stayaway yesterday to get over it all.
1988 Pace Nov. 11There is what we call petty thieving. Abelungu call it habitual stealing.
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.
1949 T. Mofolo Chaka Zulu (1965) 124Chaka said: ‘It is your hope that by killing me you will become chiefs when I am dead. But your hopes are false, for Umlungu will come, and it is he who will rule, and you will be his slaves.’
1952 H. Klein Land of Silver Mist 71He told him how the white man, the umlungu, had conquered the Zulu armies, but had never broken the Zulu spirit.
1959 L. Longmore Dispossessed 245Umlungu (the white man)! Don’t tell me about him. He is the biggest umthakathi (wizard) I have ever known of. He stabs you in order to stitch you up.
1973 Drum 18 Jan. 33Then somebody decreed that I go to my bantustan and leave the mlungu in the towns.
1985 Drum July 25While he is still pondering the double standards applied by mlungu, he is told that Cape Town has decided that he is a citizen of a nebulous republic called Bophuthatswana and is not entitled to a South African passport.
1987 C.L. Kgaphola in Staffrider Vol.6 No.4, 48Jabulani, Jubilate, Mlungu loves you.
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.
1878 A. Aylward Tvl of Today 202The black villain saluted me as ‘Umlunga’ (white man) although he could plainly see by my dress I was an Inkosi and a teacher.
1940 F.B. Young City of Gold 114‘Where are you going and what do you want here, Umlungu?’ ‘We go north, but more towards the rising sun. We do you no harm. We are travellers.’
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. adjective a. 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.
1975 Drum 22 Dec. 2Not that we Blackstanians ever get much. The reason could be that Santa is mlungu and takes care of his kind first before visiting our pondokkies.
1983 Frontline Feb. 38Often the Izibonda (civic leaders) or Bomabalane, act in concert with Abelungu officials, men who have open access to records, as the medium through which the impossible is made possible.
1985 Drum Jan. 32Peter is mlungu. His football buddies are pluralstanians.
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.

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary

Senses

18261992