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Chitonga – The Language of Zambia

May 19, 2010

There are over 80 different variations in the languages in Zambia, with English a key language, but most of the locals speak ‘Chitonga’.

Here are some of the key phrases in the Chitonga language:

– Mulibuti: Hello
– Mwapona: How are you? (Greeting)
– Kabotu: Good, Fine (the Answer)
– Twalumba: Thank you / Cheers
– Mwabuka Buti: Good Morning
– Mwayusa: Good Afternoon
– Kwasiya: Good Night
– Mwabonwa: Welcome
– Mwabonwa Bassa Noose: Very welcome
– Atwende: Let’s go!
– Iyii: Yes
– Pepe: no
– Nduwe Ni?: What is your name
– Ndime: My name is
– Mwana: Child
– Mukulana: Brother
– Bama: Mother
– Ndende: Father
– Banakazi: Ladies
– Balumi: Men
– Camuntendelele: Bicycle
– Mpongo: Goat
– Imbelele: Sheep
– Buusu: Mealie Meal
– Cikolo: School
– Malangazuba: Malaria
– Banyama: Animals
– Delesi: Dress
– Zisani: Clothes
– Mucaale Kaboto: Good bye

I regularly use about three of these phrases: Mulibuti, Twalumba, Mwabuka Buti.

However, one thing that is a staple when travelling abroad is a glaring omission from this list. The very important phrase, “Excuse me, where is the washroom?”! First one to do some research for me and help me with this one by posting it, I’ve got a Zambian souvenir I’ll send to you as an appreciation for doing so….

To view the blogs of other team members on this amazing Journey to Zambia, please visit – and become a member of – our community at!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    May 19, 2010 12:06 pm

    Tulou, Kataki, ko fe ‘a e falemalolo?

  2. Danny permalink
    May 20, 2010 1:37 pm

    Maybe just point and do the dance like a 2 year old…wouldn’t that work? 😉

  3. Danny permalink
    May 21, 2010 12:45 am

    I (like many others) am living extremely vicariously through your blogs. They are very well written and incredibly informative and inspiring. Keep em coming!!!

  4. May 12, 2011 12:27 am

    Just wandered in bewilderingly chasing the elusive tonga
    language primer…and I’m sure I’ll return!
    (just signed up for sponsorship of 11 Zambian kids)
    and when I wake from that one, I’ll be having the time
    of my life.
    By the way (maybe you know) Zambian music videos proliferate online,
    but how does one actually track down a cd?

  5. Anonymous permalink
    October 20, 2012 7:29 am

    Monze tonga near town centre they greet each other:-) mooni musa – goodmorning

  6. Helder permalink
    July 26, 2013 5:59 am

    How do you say “New Bridge” in Chitonga?

  7. October 24, 2015 4:32 pm

    Hi, to ask for the bathroom in Chitonga is “Ndakumbila munditondeezye kuchimbuzi” or “chili kuli chisambilo”.I am from Zimbabwe so there might be variations in my chitonga and that in Zambia but I’m sure its pretty much the same.

  8. Munya Masaga permalink
    May 15, 2016 6:00 am

    is there anyway I can get a Tonga ebook? I will be going to Binga next week and i need to learn really fast

    • May 17, 2016 7:57 am

      I am unsure if this is available, Munya. I spent some time on the internet looking up various words, which assisted. One thing you will find is there are almost 100 dialects, so the vocabulary will vary based on the region.

      Thanks for the question, and for reading the blog!

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