Posted in Art & Culture, Life, MALI, Travel


Greeting in Bambara


When I first arrive at Bamako in 2005, Malian long and winding greeting really annoyed me. Sometimes the greeting between two men will takes about 15 minutes. Even it would be extended longer if the parties are very close or have a family relationship. It begins when two people are still far apart. It needs to.


First one inquires about the other’s health and the other replies that he is well. Then about his wife. The answer is, she is fine, likewise his parents, his children, his animals. Each inquiry receives the same response. Then the second person repeats the list of questions to the first, getting his replies in turn. One party will start to greet and the other will answer and will finish it with some praise and replied with “amin”.



Thereafter only the proper conversation or discussion will begins.



Below are common greeting between two parties:-


Hello – I ni che

Good Morning – I ni sogoma (singular) / Aw ni sogoma (plural)

Good Afternoon – I ni tile (12noon-4pm)

Good Afternoon – I ni wula (4pm-7pm)

Good evening – I nisu

Answer: Nse (woman) / Nba (man)


How is your family? – Somogow dou?

Answer: Fine – toro shi te


Are you fine? – I kakene?

Answer: Fine – toro shi te


Is your children fine? – I den kakene?

Is your father fine? – I fa kakene?

Is your mother fine? – I ba kakene?

Is your husband fine? – I tche kakene?

Is your wife fine? – I mousso kakene?


How is your work? – I ka barake yoro dou?

How is your life/business? – Kow kayi? / ko be tchokodi?


Good recovery (by Allah) – Allah ka nagoya

Allah protects your children – Allah ka den ballo

Allah helps you – Allah ka I deme

Allah will protect you from any accident – Allah ka ikishi geregere ma

Good bye                          kam-beng

Thank you                         i-ni-che (ba-si-tay)

Sorry/pardon                     ha-ke-to

Yes                                  a-wo

No                                   a-yee

And you?                          e-dung

I understand                      un-y’afamu

I don’t understand              un-má-fa-mu

What is your name?            i-to-go?

My name is………                 un-to-go…………

Where are you from?           i-be-bo-ming?

I’m from…….                      un-be-bo

Where is                           ……

Is it far?                           a-ka-jang-wa?

Straight ahead                   a-be-ti-leng

Left                                 nu-man-bo-lo-fe

Right                                ki-ni-bo-lo-fe

How much is this?               ni-né-joli-ye

That’s too much                 aka-ge-leng-barika

Leave me alone                  bo’i sal


Good bye, tomorrow            kam-beng sini

Rain                                 san-ji

A lot                                ko-se-be

No good                            a-ma-yin

Small                                donni (donni-donni)

I go home                         ni a-be-ta-so

Who are you?                    jo-ndo


Where is… ?                      … beh mi?

House/hotel                       soo/ otelli

Bread                               boeroe

Drinking water                    mieniedji





1             kilin

2             fila

3             saba

4             naani

5             doeroe

6             wohroo

7             wohroon wilah

8             seeki

9             koonontoo

10           tan

20           moekan

30           bi saba

40           bi naani

100          kehmeh

1000   waa en anni/ni

To all of you whom have an interest to learn and practice Bambara language or Bamanankan, you may download a free dictionary that could be of practical help if you’re learning Bambara.

Don o don, tulo bɛ taa kalanso Every day, the ear goes to school.




Spent most of the life in engineering and project management. Now having the opportunity to see the world beyond my usual nest. Travel extensively to Third World Countries. Aaahh... now everything is possible

14 thoughts on “Greeting

  1. Dear Amoebaboy.

    Ooooh. I feel happy that your friend finally in contact with you. Hope she will recover soon. Have a good day friend.

  2. mamadou,thank you once again my friend has been in touch she is a little unwell but on her way back through Mauritania.
    all the best to you and yours,

  3. thank you so much i still have not received any word, and this is completley out of character for her, i appreciate the reply and the offer of help.

  4. Dear Friend.

    I understand your message and concern about your friend. I am living in Bamako. I guess your friend is going to Timbuktu and crossing the desert, as you mentioned. However I will pass the message around to alert of your friend present.

    Nevertheless, thank you for visiting

  5. i remember going through the exact same ritual with my drum teacher from Senegal.
    the reason i visited your blog however is to ask if you know of any european travellers that may have passed through recently.
    my partner is traveling as a part of a small convoy in a pink i have converted mercedes van.
    i received a text message on the 13th to say she was crossing the desert and would telephone me s soon as she reached a town.
    i am becoming increasingly concerned i have not received any news since then and have no idea how she is or where she might be.
    i know this is a complete stab in the dark but i thought it might be worth a try.
    all the best

  6. Uncle Awang

    Yes I really understand what you mean. Praise, praise and praise, people especially special guest will feel offended if their name not mentioned.

    Thanks for your visit

  7. Very interesting post about greeting in other part of the world,Thanks for sharing.
    but in Malaysia greeting from the VIP during speech is boring (you know what i mean) e.g of greeting..Yang bahgia,Yg berhormat,dato,datin,dato paduka, etc,etc sometime more than 15 mins & last few mins is Tuan-tuan dan Puan-puan.
    Anyway..Thanks for the comment on my entry ‘Pak Tambang’ .

  8. Pak Fathersez

    Thats became part of the culture of that part of the world. It should be that way as the interaction is more real rather than artificial welcoming act. Thank you

  9. Dear Ummu Aslam
    I felt that shows that how Islam teach the ummah to interacts and cares about each other. Thank you.

  10. Maybe this is a better way than our Westernised shallow way of greeting. I think the Arab way is also quite winded. The way of greeting in the villages of India is also long.

    I think the way we greet people in our kampung is also unhurried though not as complicated as in Mali.

  11. As Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahamatulahi Wa Barakatu, Mamadou
    LOL…. I know exactly what you mean about the greeting I hear it all the time with my husband or his aunt masha Allah. I think it’s very interesting long but interesting and yes each person does it . Also my husabnds aunt will do the same thing with me only in english LOL, I thought I was the only one who noticed this long greeting. BTW it’s not just Malians who do it, I’ve noticed people from Sengal and Ivory Coast does it too Allahu Alim . Very good post thanks . Take care

  12. Assalamualaikum Pak Idrus.

    How are you? Really appreciate that you have visited and left your comment on my blog. Donni donni, Pak Idrus

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