Nyama choma, daladala, katogo have gone international, now part of Oxford English dictionary

Nyama choma, a favourite meal for millions in Kenya, could soon be on the palates of millions more around the world. The phrase itself will definitely be used by a few more tongues.

“Nyama choma”, “daladala” and “katogo” are just a few of the East African words recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary. (OED)

The words were included in June 2022 as nouns, verbs and adjectives.

“Nyama choma”, for example, is often used to describe roasted meat cooked over an open flame.

An image of a “daladala” on a street in Tanzania. A daladala is a minibus used for public transport.

A “daladala”, from Tanzania, is the name of a van or minibus that carries passengers for a fare as part of a local informal transport system.

“Katogo” is a loan word from Luganda, one of Uganda’s major languages. Katogo is the name of a typical Ugandan breakfast dish consisting of banana or plantain boiled in a pot with various other ingredients. The word later developed a figurative sense, as it began to be used to mean ‘a mixture or fusion of disparate elements; a mess, a muddle’.

And “Sambaza”, in a general sense, means to share something for a common good or purpose, usually by mobile credit.

On its website, the OED said coverage of East African English includes the varieties of English spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, three countries that share a common Anglophone background despite their different colonial histories.

While most other dictionaries in use focus on present-day meanings of words, the OED is more of a historical dictionary that includes the origins of individual words, and of the language—traced through three million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language.

You can check out the full list of East African words and phrases added to the OED here.