The word for love in various languages in Africa describes the deep feeling of affection, care, interest, or even pleasure in someone or something. Interestingly, other languages of the world have different words for love, and like in African languages, they portray the same feelings. In English, the word was incorporated as lufu before it turned to present-day love to mean deep affection and to be very fond. Love’s earliest usage can be traced back to religion which sees the love of God to man right from the time of creation. Although it is difficult to trace the word’s origin in African languages, several of these languages have different ways they originated.
What You Should Know About ‘Love’ In Various Languages
Love is an emotion that may not necessarily be verbalized. In many cases, there are just more than a few ways love can be expressed in several acts. These are often called love languages. Generally, however, love is mostly viewed as that strong positive feeling of care, affection, commitment, and sacrifice among other things.
In addition, love can be found in different religions. This type of love is mostly between God and humans, and humans to humans in a Godly way. This type of love is called Agape love and many languages have a description of this type of love. In the same vein, love can be between parents to their children, family members, friends, and colleagues. In this scenario, love is described as storage or familial love. Another form of love is expressed between people who are intimately and sexually attracted to each other and it is called eros. There is also philia love which is mainly friendly. Love in various languages in Africa describe these terms in different ways.
While this may seem the end, love further unveils itself in the feelings someone has for things. This may be love for food, money, cars, animals, luxury, and more. Therefore, love may mean different things to different people and the expression of the word may not necessarily be the same in two languages.
Ways To Say Love in Various Languages in Africa
1. lief, liefhe or Liefde (Afrikaans)
Afrikaans is spoken in South Africa, Namibia, Botwana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The word love has several descriptions in Afrikaans. The word can be used in state or action as ‘liefhe’ or as ‘liefde’ which are verbs.
2. Soyayya, Kauna, or So (Hausa)
‘Kauna’ and ‘so’ are nouns for the word love in Hausa. ‘Kauna’ means love, goodwill, and affection. ‘So’ on the other hand means love, affection, will, wish, passion or even desire. ‘So’ can also be used as a verb. Soyayya is however the general term of love. Hausa is spoken in Northern Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Ghana.
3. Ihunaanya or Ifunaanya (Igbo)
Different dialects of Igbo have different pronunciations for love. While some say Ihunaanya, others say Ifunaanya. The meaning however does not change. Ihunaanya or ifunaanya is the noun for love in Igbo while ihu n’anya (ifu n’anya) is the verb form of love. Igbo is a language mainly spoken by southeastern Nigerians and some people in Equatorial Guinea.
4. Urukundo (Kinyarwanda)
Standing alone, ‘urukundo’ means love in Kinyarwanda. The word changes its form to ukunda when it is a verb. Kinyawanda is a language that has native speakers in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and DR Congo.
5. Rudo (Shona)
Rudo is another way to say love in an African language. It is the Shona word for love, a language native to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Another word for love in Shone is ‘chidakadako‘. Chidakado is however broader as it can mean feelings, attachment to something or someone, prejudice, bias, natural instincts, and even sympathy. Mudiwa can also be used as a noun for love which directly translates to darling in English.
6. Uthando, Ukuthanda or Thanda (Zulu)
The noun Uthando describes love and affection. Also, Ukuthanda is an English equivalent of love, wish, desire, preference, and willingness. The verb Thanda on the other hand is equivalent to the English words love, like, admire, wish, and value. The Zulu language has native speakers in South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, and Eswatini.
7. Upendo or Mahaba (Swahili)
Swahili is also known as Kiswahili. It is a language spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. ‘Upendo‘ originates from Tanzania and it means ‘love’. ‘Mahaba‘ is also a word for love in Swahili. It was derived from Arabic and can mean love, romance, or friendship.
8. Jinngu, Njinngu, Yidde, or Yidude (Fulfulde/Fulani)
‘Jinngu’ and ‘yidde’ are nouns that mean love in Fulfulde while ‘njjingu’ and ‘yidude’ can only be used as verbs. Fulfulde is a Senegambian language spoken across 20 countries in West and Central Africa. Fulfulde is also known as Fula while its speakers are called Fulani.
9. Chikonda, Konda (Chichewa/Nyanja)
Love in Chichewa or Nyanja language is Chikondi which is a noun that can also mean friendship, kindness, and affection. Konda also means love but it can only be used as a verb. Other than love, it also means to devote or to pet. Chichewa is the official language of Malawi and Zambia. There are also natives of the language in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
10. Ife or Nife (Yoruba)
The Yoruba Language has two ways to say the word love. One is the noun ‘ife‘ which means love, desire, affection, passion, wish, or willingness. ‘Nife‘ on the other hand is a verb that means love. Yoruba is a language found in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Togo, and Ivory Coast.
11. Lerato (Sesotho)
Lerato means love in Sesotho which is also known as Sotho. The language is native to the Basotho people of Lesotho, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
12. Jacayl (Somali)
How to say love in Somali is ‘Jacyl‘. However, jecel can be used as a noun while jeclid is the verb of the word. Somali is one of the largest in Africa and it is native to the Horn of Africa who shares a similar ancestry, culture, and historical background. Anti speakers of Somali are in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
13. Fik’iri (Amharic)
Fik’iri is love in the Amharic language. The language is also known as Amarinya or kuchumba and it is one of the two major languages of Ethiopia.
14. Fitiavana (Malagasy)
Malagasy is an official language in Madagascar and it is spoken by more than 25 million people. The word love in the language is ‘fitiavana‘
15. ɔdɔ (Twi)
ɔdɔ is love in Twi language and the word is pronounced as odo. The Twi language is spoken in Ghana by 17-18 million people. It is also known as Aka Kasa or Akan-speak.
16. Eding (Ewondo or Kolo)
Love in Ewondo is ‘eding’. It can also mean affection. Ewondo speakers are called Ewondo people and are found in Cameroon.
17. Enyorra (Maasai)
‘Enyorra’ is the Maasai word for love. Maasai is also known as Masai or Maa. It is a language spoken in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
18. Kusinda Omukwano, Kwagalana, and Mukwaano (Luganda)
Luganda is also known as Ganda. It is a language native to Uganda and has about 8.5 million native speakers. The language has different expressions for love. ‘Kusinda Omukwano’ means love (make). ‘Kwagalana’ is another word for love in Ganda but describes love for each other (agape love). ‘Mukwano’ is the other way to say love in Ganda and it means dear, romance, or love in Ganda.
19. Wendo (Kikuyu)
‘Wendo’ means love in Kikuyu or Gikuyu language. The native speakers of this language are more than 6 million people. The language is spoken in the central province of Kenya.
20. Gukunda (Kirundi)
The word Gukunda is love in Kirundi, a language spoken by 9 million people and is the official language of Burundi. Kirundi is also known as Rundi.
21. Icitemwiko (Bemba)
Bemba language is also known as Chibemba, Cibemba, and Ichibemba. The language is spoken in Zambia, DR Congo, and Tanzania. How to say love in Bemba is Icitemwiko.
22. Jaala, Jaalladha (Oromo)
Oromo is the official language of Ethiopia and also has native speakers in Kenya. Love in the language is Jaala or Jaaladha.
23. Nobnala or Mbeuguel (Wolof)
‘Nobnala’ is the Wolof word for love. It is a language spoken in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania. The speakers are called Wolof people.
24. Guqula or Uthando (Xhosa)
Uthando is also a word that means love in Swahili. Xhosa (pronounced as kousa) is one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe and has more than 19 million speakers.
25. Lamour (Morisyen)
Lamour is derived by Morisyen from the French word l’amour which means love. Morisyen is also known as Mauritian creole or Morisien. The language is native to Mauritius and it is a French-based creole language.
26. Fullah (Mende)
Fullah means love in Mende, a major language in Sierra Leone that has other speakers in Liberia.
27. Fɛ̀ (Bambara)
Fɛ̀ means love in Bambara language which is also known as Bamana or Bamanankan. The language is the lingua franca of Mali and has more than 14 million speakers.
28. suɔmɔ (Ga)
Ga is a Kwa language found in Ghana. Its word for love is Suɔmɔ (pronounced as suomo).
29. Lɔlɔ̃ (Ewe)
Ewe language is also known as Eʋe or Eʋegbe and it is native to Ghana and Togo. The word of love is Ewe is lɔlɔ̃.
30. Fikri (Tiringya)
Fikri means love in Tiringya also known as Tigrigna. It is a language native to the Tiringya people found in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia.
31. Lonlon (Gen)
Gen language is also called Gɛ̃, Gɛn gbe, Gebe, Guin, Mina-Gen, and Popo. Its speakers are found in Togo and Benin. Love in the language is Ionlon and it is one of the ways to say love in various African languages.
32. Bolingo (Lingala)
Bolingo is how to say love in Lingala, a language that is also known as Ngala and has about 15 to 20 million native speakers. There are also 25 million people who speak it as a second language. It is native to DR Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, and the Republic of South Sudan.
33. Dia (Mbere)
Dia means love in the Mbere language which is also known as Mbede or Mbete. The language has natives in Congo and Gabon.
34. Dinanga (Tshiluba)
Tshiluba is a language known with different other names such as Luba-Kasai, Western Luba, Bena-Lulua, Ciluba, Luba-Lulua or Luva. The language is found in DR Congo and its word for love is Dinanga.
35. Nhök (Nuer)
Nhök is how to say in love in Nuer Language, otherwise known as Thok Naath. The language is spoken in South Sudan and Ethiopia.
36. Lɛk (Krio)
Krio is an African language mixed with English. The language is also known as Sierra Leonean Creole and is spoken by about 87% of the population of Sierra Leone. Its word for love is Lɛk.
37. Ima (Efik)
Ima means love in Efik, a southern Nigerian language spoken. The native speakers of this language are called Efik people.
38. Mr or Mrwt (Nubian)
The Nubian languages were popular in Sudan and Egypt but mostly found in Egypt. The language is classified into Old Nubian which is mostly found in documents and not among native speakers; and the present-day Nubia. The English variant of love in the language is Mr or Mrwt. Mrwt is a noun while Mr is used as a verb to mean love, desire, or wish.
39. Arhuẹmwonmwan (Bini)
The word Arhuẹmwonmwan means love in Bini or Benin. It is a language spoken by the Edo people of southern Nigeria.
40. Hero, Hera, Mar, or Maro (Luo)
Among the ways to say love in the Luo language is Hero, Hera, Mar or Mera. The language has native speakers in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Also, the speakers of this language are called the Luo people.
41. Hobb or Bghaa (Darija)
The language Darija, which is also called Morrocan Arabic, is native to Morroco and has the words Hobb and Bghaa to mean love. However, Hobb is used as a noun while Bghaa or Bghee is a verb.
42. Nhiɛɛr (Dinka)
The word for love in Dinka is Nhiɛɛr. Dinka is a language spoken by the Dinka people of Sudan and South Sudan.
43. Ohole (Kwayanma)
It is a standardized dialect of Ovambo or Oshiwambo language. It is native to Namibia and Angola. Ohole in the language means love.
44. Ẹguọnọ (Urhobo)
Ẹguọnọ means love in the southern Nigerian language of Urhobo. The word also means want, desire, wish, lovely, and to look for.
45. Nowān (Grebo)
Grebo is a Kru language native to the people of Liberia. Nowān is how to say love in Grebo.
46. Luyando (Tonga)
There are a number of languages that are called Tonga. However, Luyando means love in the Tonga language spoken in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The language is also known as Chitonga or Zambezi.
47. Kontan (Seselwa)
Kontan is translated to love or happiness in Seselwa. It is the official language of Seychelles and it is also known as Seychellois Creole. It is a French-based creole language.
48. Ko Kicinio (Afar)
As part of the ways to say love in various languages in Africa, the Afar language, also known as Afaraf and Qafar af, describes the word as Ko Kicinio. The language has more than one million native speakers in Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
49. Kunda (Pare)
Kunda is love in Pare language which is otherwise known as Asu (Tanzania), Kipare, Athu, Casu, and Chasu.
50. Ràwò (Kanuri)
Kanuri is a language that has native speakers in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Sudan, and Libya. Love in the language is ràwò.
51. Wanyinan (Fon)
How to say love in Fon or Fɔ̀ngbè language is Wanyinan. The language is native to Benin, Togo, and Nigeria, and its speakers are called Fon people.
5 Ways To Say “I Love You” in Various Languages in Africa
Nakupenda or Ninakupenda
E-wedhalow (to a male) while E-wedshalow (to a female).
However, you can say Afekirihalow (to a male) and Afekirishalow (to a female) if you want to show deeper love.
There are different ways to say “I Love You” in Yoruba.
- Mo nífẹ̀ẹ́ rẹ (used for someone’s age mate or someone younger than the speaker)
- Mo nífẹ̀ẹ́ yín (used for someone older than the speaker)
- Mo fẹ́ràn rẹ (mostly used for family members or close friends. You can also use the phrase to describe the things you like).
Me dɔ wo
Hausa is a gender-sensitive language and how you say “I love you” is different when referring to male or female. A speaker can use either so or Kauna to express love
- Ina son (or Kaunar) ki (to a female)
- Ina son (or Kaunar) ka (to a male)
- Ina son (or Kaunar) ku (to 2 or more people)