'Teargas' and other Sheng words for food

Knowing the words helps vendors and customers understand each other

In Summary

• Kibanda seller in Westlands fills us in on the lingo in vogue

Nyagah or Madondo
Nyagah or Madondo
Image: Elizabeth Ngigi

When Kamande wa Kioi sang 'Karanga Chapo', he said most people go to a hotel and take a soda and leave because they don't understand the language used. Sheng is now everywhere, even in hotels. Vibandas around our workplaces is a good example.

Most people use the language to fit in the class of people at that particular place. Mary, a kibanda (better known as kibandaski) seller in Westlands, told the Star she interacts with more than 50 people daily.

She has a food joint and most casual labourer go there for lunch. "People who visit here are from all walks of lives, and it always helps using the language with them. Customers are happy if we understand each other. Some even come with hard names, which sometimes I don't know the meaning of, but when we communicate, they make me understand what they want," she said.


Here are some of the Sheng words used in our local food joints, kamcheti is rice, githeri is ballast, kokoto or ridhgez. Chapo is called handkerchief while ugali is plaster. Omena is called Kisumu girls, while fish is Kisumu boys.

Maziwa mala is Mgando, while block bread is mattress. Karara means half a chapati. "When they ask for teargas, don't run away, they are simply requesting for pilipili, while Dubai sausage is mutura," Mary said.

Rolex is a chapati rolled with an egg, madondo or nyagah is beans, while chafua or nyeshea is chapati with beans soups.