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"Toubab" , "Toubabou" or "Toubob" is a Central and West African name for a person of European descent ("whites"). Used most frequently in The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea, and Mali, and also in Ivory Coast, the term can be derogatory by itself, but it is also frequently associated with "white person" or “colonizer”. The word can also be applied to any perceived traveler, usually only those with a different phenotype, up to foreign-raised locals (thus with a different accent) or visiting expatriates. In Alex Haley's book Roots, the word is spelled "toubob", and the phrase "toubob fa" (kill toubob) is used several times.

In God's Bits of Wood, authored by Senegalese Sembene Ousmane, the natives call the French colonizers toubab (singular) or toubabs (plural).

In the fourth episode of the miniseries ROOTS, Kizzy refers to her slave masters as "toubab," or white.

A verb in the Wolof language means "to convert" (missionaries during colonial times, being whites coming from Europe). The word could have derived from the two bob (two shillings) coin of pre-decimalization United Kingdom.[citation needed]


In Ghana the word used for a white person or foreigner is Obroni in the local languages, of the Akan family.

In Nigeria, the word used for a 'white' person is Oyibo.

In Togo and Benin, the word used for a white person is 'yovo'.

In Burkina Faso, the word for a white person is 'nassara’ in moore, the most spoken native tongue. Otherwise “toubabou” is the word for a white person in Dioula, bambara or mandinka spoken mostly in the West of the country.

In East Africa and Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the word used for a white or foreign person is "muzungu".

In both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, the word used for a white person is "mondele" or "mundele".


  • François Bouchetoux, Writing Anthropology: A Call for Uninhibited Methods, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2014, 121 p. ISBN 1-13740-417-5
  • Maurice Delafosse, « De l'origine du mot Toubab » in Annuaire et mémoires du comité d'études historiques et scientifiques de l'A.O.F., 1917, p. 205-216
  • Anne Doquet, « Tous les toubabs ne se ressemblent pas. Les particularités nationales des étrangers vues par les guides touristiques maliens », in Mali - France : Regards sur une histoire partagée, GEMDEV et Université du Mali, Karthala, Paris ; Donniya, Bamako, 2005, p. 243-258 ISBN 2-84586-724-7
  • Pierre Dumont, Le Toubab, L'Harmattan, Paris, Montréal, 1996, 127 p. ISBN 2-7384-4646-9 (Novel)
  • Charles Hoareau, Toubabs et immigrés, Pantin, Paris, Le Temps des cerises, VO éd, 1999, 202 p. ISBN 2-84109-184-8
  • Lawrence Hill, "The Book of Negroes", HarperCollins, Toronto, 2007, 44, 45 p. ISBN 978-1-55468-156-3
  • - [1]
  • : dictionnaire de lingala en ligne [2]