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Say “I Love You” in 54 African Languages

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Saturday, February 13th, 2016
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We say “I love you” all-year round to friends, family, and significant others, but Valentine’s Day is provides an extra-special occasion. Take the opportunity to say “I Love You” in one of these languages from Africa’s 54 countries


Afar – spoken in Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia: ko kicinio

Afrikaans – spoken in South Africa, and Namibia: Ek’s lief vir jou / Ek het jou lief

Akan/Twi/Fante – spoken in Ghana: Me dowapaa

Amharic – spoken in Ethiopia: afekirishalehu (feminine), afekirhalehu (masculine)

Arabic – spoken in Algeria, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, and Western Sahara:

  • to a man – (ana uħibbuk) ٲنَا ٱحِبُّك
  • to a woman – (ana baħibbik) ٲنَا بَحَِّك

Bambara – spoken in Mali: M’bi fe

Bemba – spoken in Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana, and Democratic People’s Republic of Congo: Nalikutemwa

Berber – spoken in Algeria: Lakh tirikh

Chichewa/Chewa – spoken in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe: ndimakukonda

Ewe – spoken in Togo, Ghana and Benin: Me lonwo

Yaounde-Fang (including Ewondo) – spoken in Gabon and Cameroon: ma dzing wa / ma gnôre wa

French – spoken in Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Comoros, Cote D’Ivore, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo, and Tunisia: Je t’aime

Fula/Fulani – spoken in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Cameroon, and Mauritania: mi yidi ma

Ganda/Luganda – spoken in Uganda: Nkwagala Nyo

Gikuyu/Kikuyu – spoken in Kenya: Neguedete

Hausa – spoken in Niger, Nigeria: Ina Sonki

Igbo – spoken in Nigeria: A hurum gi nanya

Kamba – spoken in Kenya: Ningwemdete

Kanuri – spoken in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon: Nya Raakna

Kirundi/Kinyarwanda – spoken in Burundi and Rwanda: Ndagukunda

Kikongo/Kongo – spoken in Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Republic of the Congo: Mono ke zola nge

Lingala – spoken in Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of the Congo: Nalingi yo

Luo – spoken in Kenya and Tanzania: Aheri

Luba-Kasai/Tshiluba – spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Ndi mukusua

Malagasy – spoken in Madagascar: Tiako ianao

Malinke – spoken in Gambia: ni bi fe

Mandingo/Mandinka – spoken in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea-Bissau and Chad: Nye kanu laye

Mende – spoken in Sierra Leone: cale sa duie ca upeif

Moore/Dagbani – spoken in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Mali: Mi ndigui

Ndebele – spoken in Zimbabwe: Niyakutanda

Nyanja – spoken in Zambia: Ndikufuna

Oromo – spoken in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya: Ani sin Jaaladha

Oshiwambo – spoken in Angola and Namibia: Ondi ku hole

Portuguese – spoken in Angola, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Sao Tome and Principe: amo te

Pular – spoken in Guinea: Mbe de yid ma

Punu – spoken in Gabon: ni u rondi

Sango – spoken in Central African Republic: mbi yé mô

Setswana/Tswana – spoken in Botswana: Ke a go rata

Shona – spoken in Zimbabwe and Zambia: Ndinokuda!

SiSwati – spoken in Swaziland: Ngiyakutsandza

Somali – spoken in Somalia: Wa ku jeelahay

Sesotho – spoken in Lesotho: Ke a o rata

Soussou – spoken in Guinea: iran fan ma

Spanish – spoken in Equatorial Guinea, Morocco, and Western Sahara: Te quiero

Sukuma/Nyamwezi – spoken in Tanzania: itogwa benekele ne benekele

Swahili – spoken in Burundi, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda:

  • Ninakupenda
  • Begg naa la (general)

Tigre – spoken in Eritrea: ana enti efete

Tigrinya – spoken in Eritrea and Ethiopia: Y’fetwekum e’ye

Tsonga – spoken in South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe: na ku rhandza

Vai – spoken in Liberia, and Sierra Leone: Na lia

Wolof – spoken in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania:

  • Sopp naa la (I admire you – when courting)
  • Nopp naa la (between partners)

Xhosa – spoken in South Africa and Lesotho: Ndiya kuthanda

Yorùbá – spoken in Benin and Nigeria: Mo nifẹẹ rẹ

Zulu– spoken in South Africa and Lesotho: Ngiyakuthanda

This look at the linguistic diversity of Africa is not meant to be exhaustive or take into account the many dialects. But if you see a mistake or think the list can be improved, leave a comment below!

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