African Words In Suriname Language

According to researchers Suriname has the most words of African origin. Most in Surinam are probably unaware of their origin, as was I before I started doing some research.

These are only words in use by the general population. But there are many more in languages of the Maroons, Ndyuka & Saamaka.

The words’ country of origin is also included as well as the dialect

Akan languages – twi & ewe (Ghana):

Anansi:  “spider”

Doti(doh tee): “ground”

kokobé (Cocobay):  “leprosy”

Wiri(wee ree): hair (wi)

Yesi(yih see): ear (esi)

Aisa(eye-sah): God of the earth(Asesa)

Ye ye(yih yih): spirit

Agama(ah gah mah):  chameleon

Gogo(gohgoh): Buttocks

Lo(loh): clan (usually with common ancestry)

Fula language(Ghana, Nigeria, Cote D’ ivoir):

Juku: from “Jukka”, “poke”, “to stick”

Igbo language(Nigeria):

Obeah:  from ọbiạ, “doctoring”, “mysticism”

Okra: from ọkwurụ, a vegetable

Soso(soh soh):  “only”

Unu(oo noo):  from únù, “you (plural)”

Efik language(Nigeria):

Buckra: from mbakára, “white man”

Wolof language(Senegal):

njam, nyam: Eat


Tata(tahtah): father, also used  for, parents or ancestors

Tonton: brains

Neku(nih ku): poison to catch fish

Lau: crazy, mad

4 thoughts on “African Words In Suriname Language

  1. When in Lagos, Nigeria i also heard two familiar words:
    1) pietjing= child in suriname, it has the same meaning in Lagos
    2)How you deh was a greeting regularly used in Lagos, Fa joe de in Suriname has the same meaning.

    I do not know in which language both words are used in Nigeria…


    • Hi Michael, Piking comes from the Portuguese language, “pequeno”. Portuguese dialect was widely used especially among coastal trade towns in the 16th century because the Portuguese were the main traders at that time.

      The language in Nigeria is heavily influenced by English so I’m not sure.

      Naki & fom are African


  2. They are all literary Africans, from different African countries. Only been washed up by the dutches…I visited Amsterdam about 6 months ago and I met quite a number of Surinames, some even work at their Govt parastatals, They need total re-orientation. God help us all


  3. “Odi o ” is the form of salution in the Ewe language in Ghana and Togo, you can hear it on youtube at the begining of the Ewe traditional “agbadja” dance whiwh is maybe the origin of the “bandja dans” in Suriname.
    In Ewe for say how are you they say “O fua” (o fa in suriname).
    In Igbo they say “eya” for say yes but it is pronnouced “eye” as in suriname.
    opete in Ghana fante asante twi means volture as in suriname.
    In a twi dancehall song on youtube I heards the worlds “suaki” and “tawgi”
    in winti they call the suprem god “a nana keduaman keduampon”. some of the numerous names for the suprem God in the asante Ghana akom religion are : “Tcheduaman”, “Odomankoma”,”Nana Nyame”, “O Nyankopong”.
    “Tata” means god in the Kikongo language, as in for example the name of the suprem Tata Nzambi Mpungu (tata ampuku in winti).
    Abada and Yaw kumanti (Kromanti) winti are abosom (lower gods) in the Ghana Akom religion of the Fanti and Ashanti people.
    In twi for say yes you say “aane” but you can also say “aai”.
    “tan” in the phrase in Djuka “Pe yu e tan ? (where do you live?) is “te” in modern ashanti twi but in ancient form of fanti twi they pronounce “tan”.


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