Muzungu: One who travels around


Article first published as Mzungu: One who travels around on Technorati.

lostIn the book, The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World, the three “lost girls” are in Africa and learn the word, Muzungu.  “I learned that [muzungu] originally meant ‘one who travels around,’ referring to the European traders who came in the 1800s.” As a “muzungu” or one who travels around, I really enjoyed this travelogue with the three 20-somethings on a mission to see the world, have adventures, and as with all long journeys, to find themselves.
Their three voices share the storytelling and their personal sagas. Each brings personal experience and dreams to be fulfilled. Learning to scuba dive, teach yoga or help young African girls through creating a play, is mingled with the dramatic tuk tuk rides, muddy hikes and their evolving lives.
sigiriaDuring our summer Sri Lankan adventures and in my 103rd country of travel, while reading this book, I had an incredible new experience!  At the Flower Inn outside Sigiria Ancient Rock Fortress I went to the toilet and A FROG jumped out of the toilet. I was surprised to see a frog and it smelled like crap which makes sense since it must have climbed through the septic system. Later that night as I checked the toilet first, there were two smaller frogs and tons of ants. Not a huge shock, as we generally stay in hostels that rank on our scale of minus one star.
We did have a typical rice and curry dinner which was a feast of 14 dishes of curry including pumpkin, Jackfruit, carrot, potato, vegetable soup and an omelette at the family owned Flower Inn which was started in 1972.elepphant

Sri Lanka is definitely a wild adventure and was a great place to read, especially when we were not allowed out at night due to wild elephants that wander in Sigiriya. In the book, The Lost Girls, they learn to be better friends to each other and themselves as they evolve while discovering the beauty of the Taj Mahal, the forgiveness of a van company after you total their car, and the importance of true friends who support you through all of life’s struggles. dagobaMy favorite quote is from the beginning of the book, “The world is round, the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning. Ivy Baker Priest.” The more I travel, the more I learn about myself and that the end is only the beginning. Like the actual Lost Girls in the story, I have “prioritized adventure and discovery over stability and structure” and that has made all the difference on the road less traveled. 
We are leaving December 18 for Colombia to begin our next adventure, and I look forward to more dramas like frogs in the toilet or wild elephants at night. Who knows what these muzungus will see next!  
New article on Science and Education, at Science Isn’t Scary: for the article: Race to Nowhere

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a television host, travel journalist as well as a passionate artist, educator and writer who has explored 101 countries, 6 continents and sailed on cruise ships for seven years on the high seas and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which was read in 212 countries in 2018 and named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blog and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one million views on her YouTube channel. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on both Twitter and Facebook, has over 150,000 followers across social media and ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. She has been a finalist for six Southern California Journalism Awards in the past three years and won an award for her Jewish Journal article. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and challenges. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip.

3 responses to “Muzungu: One who travels around

  1. From LM: "Lisa,
    Have a wonderful holiday on your next adventure!!!! I am looking forward to the updates as i live vicariously!

    Thank you!

  2. Joseph Ernest posted the following in response to this article at technorati:
    "Actually Mzungu is a Swahili word and Muzungu with a "U" is a Ugandan word. Both words mean "English person." The only place you hear that word is East Africa which was once a British protectorate. The original explorers to arrive in Uganda and Kenya were English. People like Speke, Grant, David Livingston and so forth. The language they spoke was English which is referred to as "Luzungu." So a person who speaks "Luzungu" is a "Muzungu" in Swahili it would be "Mzungu."

    The word has now evolved and is used to refer to White people. A group of white people are "Bazungu" The "Ba" is used as a collective noun the "Mu" as a singular noun. So as long as you are of European descent they will refer to you as a Muzungu, because they assume you are English speaking. People from France are referred to as "Bafaransa" if it is one person it would be "Mufaransa." Whoever told you it meant "One Who Travels Around" musn't know their native language. One who travels around is "Mutabaazi" and the collective noun is "Batabaazi."

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  3. Great post, love it! haha Anyway, today I had a big luck and want to share it with everyone – I finally found a way to make cheap calls to Australia, where my cousin Becky lives! There's this very neat site,, that offers a fast and easy way to reach your friends and relatives all around the world! You simply dial 084 3278 7878 for Australia landlines, and if you're in the UK, you can call Australia and talk for as long as you like! 🙂

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