8 WAYS TO SAY HELLO IN SOUTH AFRICA - Creative Travel Guide (2024)

Posted on Last updated:


Heading to South Africa? Here are 8 ways to say hello in South Africa so you can greet the locals and enjoy your time to the max!

Why South africa?

South Africa is one of the most visited countries in Africa, has plenty of things to see and do and is home to many African Celebrations.

Its natural beauty means the country attracts people from all over the world. South Africa is a very diverse country with eleven official languages.

One of the many privileges of growing up in South Africa is that I had the opportunity to learn many of these and feel confident when traveling to most parts of the country.

However, the multiple languages spoken in the country do often cause a languages barrier between tourists and locals because not everyone can fluently speak English.

Apart from that, people everywhere appreciate it more when travelers can say a thing or two in their native language. In South Africa, the most spoken language often depends on what part of the country you’re in.


  1. Hello – Bet you didn’t see this one coming but as I said, English is the medium of communication, and everyone knows “hello” so if you get stuck, just simply say “hello” with a smile on your face.
  2. Sawubona (singular)/ Sanibonani (Plural) – (Zulu and Swati) Zulu is the most widely spoken language in the country. You will hear this language everywhere more especially if you visit provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
  3. Molo (Singular)/ Molweni (Plural) – Xhosa is the second most widely spoken language. You will mostly hear it in the Eastern Cape province, the informal settlements in Cape Town and other parts of the Western Cape.

4.Dumela (Singular)/ Dumelang (Plural) – (Tswana and Sotho) Sotho is popular in the Free State province while Tswana is popular in the North West. You will also hear these languages a lot in the Gauteng cities; Johannesburg and Pretoria.

5. Abuxeni (pronounced Abusheni) – Tsonga is not a popular language, but if you ever come across a Tsonga person then it will be good to at least know how to greet them in their language.

8 WAYS TO SAY HELLO IN SOUTH AFRICA - Creative Travel Guide (2)

6. Ndaa (Men)/Aa (Women) – The Venda language is also not widely spoken in most parts of the country but very popular in the Limpopo province. If you’re a man you greet by saying “Ndaa” and if you are a woman you greet by saying “Aa.”

7. Heita hola/howzit – Loosely translates to “Hi, how are you?” This is a “cool” urban greeting often used in the streets. You can use it when you see a young gentleman in a township pub or when you see them on the streets. They’ll find you very cool especially if it’s obvious that you’re a foreigner.

8. Aweeh – Loosely translates to “Hello” also a cool, urban street slang mainly used in the “coloured” communities. This greeting, as well as the one before it, are very popular among young people.

An extra tip from a native: When greeting older people, always follow the greeting with a nod and when shaking hands use both of your hands otherwise enjoy the braais and the chillas.

South Africa Travel Tips

So you are heading to South Africa and you now know how to greet others, but here are a few more travel tips for things you need to know before visiting South Africa.

  • Don’t worry about the language – It is great to learn some basic greetings and sayings but, if you speak English, you should be able to travel well. Many South Africans speak English, whether it is as a first or second language, so you should be able to communicate with others in most situations.
  • When to visit? – South Africa can be visited all year round but check the weather ahead of booking to pack accordingly. November to February offer warm and dry weather whilst July to November is cold and windy but a great time for whale watching.
  • South Africa is huge – The country is massive so don’t expect to see it all unless you are here for an extended period of time.
  • Three Capitals – South Africa is the only country in the world with three capital cities; Pretoria, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein.
  • Cities are modern – The cities in South Africa are modern and developed. You can expect fantastic restaurants, 5-star hotels, markets, museums, and shopping malls. You will have to travel to the game reserves and the nearby villages to spot wild animals.
  • Diversity – South Africa offers so many different things to see and do, including Safaris, skiing, vineyards, canyons, and bustling city life. Enjoy all sides of the country and plan longer than you think you will need – if you can.
  • You can travel on a budget – Travel prices are considerably cheaper in South Africa than they are in the West, so traveling can be cheap.
  • Try the food – South Africa is home to some amazing food but also diverse options to choose from. From markets to eateries to fine dining, there are lots of great choices for you to choose from – whether you want to try some traditional dishes or western fusions.
  • Visas – South Africa offers a 90-day visa-free option for some nationalities including Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans. Check this website to see if you need a visa before you travel.
  • Safety – South Africa is safe but uses your common sense. Keep your valuables locked in the hotel safe and don’t flaunt expensive electronics or jewelry.
  • Rent a car – Renting a car is the best way to see the country. Taxis aren’t readily available here and the public transport is limited.
  • Uber and Taxis – When in the big cities, you can use taxis and Uber to travel around. These are cheap and we recommend using them if your hotel or hostel suggests it.
  • Take a filter water bottle – Water in the cities is safe to drink but that is not the case in the smaller towns. Bring a filter water bottle to stay safe.
  • Stay in a lodge – There are many reserves in South Africa with lots of lodges and camps to choose from. If you have the budget, try and spend at least one night in a camp with your camping cot – they are gorgeous and offer a unique experience.
  • Travel insurance – Make sure you book a travel insurance before you visit. We use World Nomads for all our travels, with extensive affordable plans that can be booked with little advanced notice.
  • Safaris are pricey but worth it – Your biggest expense in South Africa is the game reserves. These are costly but worth it.
  • South Africa is laid back – The country is a laid-back, slow-paced destination so don’t expect people to be rushing around. Embrace the slow pace and relax.

Helpful Resources

Travel essentials:

  • We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
  • For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
  • We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
  • We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
  • This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.

What to pack

8 WAYS TO SAY HELLO IN SOUTH AFRICA - Creative Travel Guide (2024)


How do South Africans say hello? ›

Howzit – A traditional South African greeting that translates roughly as “How are you?” or simply “Hello”. 2. Heita – An urban and rural greeting used by South Africans.

What is a typical South African greeting? ›

Predominantly spoken in KwaZulu-Natal, Zulu is understood by at least 50% of South Africans.
  • Hello! – Sawubona! ( ...
  • Hello! – Molo (to one) / Molweni (to many) ...
  • Hello! – Haai! / Hallo! ...
  • Hello – Dumela (to one) / Dumelang (to many) ...
  • Hello – Dumela. ...
  • Hello – Dumela (to one) / Dumelang (to many) ...
  • Hello – Avuxeni. ...
  • Hello – Sawubona.
Sep 23, 2013

How do you say hello in all 11 South African languages? ›

How to say 'hello' in all 11 of SA's official languages
  1. English. Hello!
  2. isiNdebele. Lotjhani!
  3. isiXhosa. Molo!
  4. isiZulu. Sawubona!
  5. Sepedi. Dumela!
  6. Setswana. Dumela!
  7. Sesotho. Dumela!
  8. Xitsonga. Avuxeni!
Jul 28, 2017

How do you greet creatively? ›

111 Different Ways to Say Hello to People
  1. Howdy bro! Tell me what's new going on!
  2. Hey there, buddy! Wassup?
  3. Wassup, partner!
  4. Hey! How is it going?
  5. What's kicking, little buddy?
  6. My name is (your name), What's your name buddy?
  7. Hey! smarty! What's going on?
  8. Hey, buddy! Mind if we meet now? I saw you ages ago.
Nov 23, 2022

How do South Africa greet in the morning? ›

3- Goeie môre

This means “Good morning” in English, and is used to greet someone before noon. It's reserved for slightly more formal use than “Hallo,” but is less formal than “Goeie dag” and “Goeienaand.”

What is Hello in Africa? ›

Howzit – South African traditional greeting that translates as “Hello” or “How are you?”

What are South African expressions? ›

If you're visiting South Africa any time soon, it's useful to know a few turns of phrase to help you along the way.
  • Lekker. Lekker [lek-uh] is a widely used term indicating that something... 'great' or … 'nice'. ...
  • Howzit? ...
  • Yebo: ...
  • Shap shap/sharp sharp: ...
  • Eish(!): ...
  • Shame: ...
  • Braai: ...
  • Yoh:
Sep 26, 2019

How to be polite in South Africa? ›

It is polite to cover your mouth when you yawn. It is rude to spit in public. Show heightened respect to anyone older than you in all situations. It is common to tip about 10% of bills in South Africa, and tips are usually not included in the overall bill.

How do you say hello in 10 different ways? ›

You could use the phrases below to substitute or supplement the word hello.
  1. Good morning/afternoon/evening. ...
  2. Pleased to meet you. ...
  3. It's nice to meet you. ...
  4. It's good to see you. ...
  5. How are you? ...
  6. Hey. ...
  7. What's up? ...
  8. What's new?

How do you say hello in slang? ›

Howdy / Hey mate / Hey man / G'day / and Gidday mate all indicate that we know a person quite well. How are you? / What's up? / How's it going? are casual ways to say hello in English and indicate that we've known that person for some time. How's you? is a casual and tender way to ask after someone's wellbeing.

How do you greet everyone in a unique way? ›

Let's go over 10 different ways that we can say hello or greet someone in English.
  1. Hello. This is the most basic greeting in English. ...
  2. Hi. This is a shorter version of "hello". ...
  3. Hey. ...
  4. Good morning. / Good afternoon. / Good evening. ...
  5. It's nice to meet you. ...
  6. It's a pleasure to meet you. ...
  7. It's good to see you again. ...
  8. What's up?

What is a custom greeting? ›

What are custom phone greetings? A custom phone greeting is a recording that plays automatically when a customer calls. They can be set to play right at the start as a professional welcome, as a voicemail greeting, or even as an away message when you can't answer.

How do you say please in South Africa? ›

  1. Yes - Ja pronounced Yah.
  2. No - Nee pronounced kneer.
  3. Thank you - Dankie pronounced dunkey.
  4. Please - Asseblief pronounced asserbleef.
  5. Goodbye – Totsiens pronounced totseens.

How do Afrikaans people greet each other? ›

Say “Haai” or “Hallo” if you are greeting an acquaintance or a friend. You can use the informal way to say “Hello” in Afrikaans if you know the person or are on familiar terms with the person. Many Afrikaners will greet each other with “Haai” or “Hallo” when they see each other on the street or in their homes.

What does ayebo mean in South Africa? ›

Yebo [yeah-boh] It means "yes", but it is used as an extremely expressive form of the affirmative. It's often used as a double positive, saying "Yebo yes!".

How do you say you're welcome in South Africa? ›

In Afrikaans, “You're welcome” is Dit is 'n plesier.. It literally means “It's a pleasure.” Let's break it down by syllable. (slow) Dit is 'n plesier.

How do you say awesome in South Africa? ›

Kief [kif], derived from Arabic (kayf), means cool, great, awesome or neat. Eg. 'That's a kief car! '

What is the South African word for awesome? ›

Kief, pronounced keef

Derived from the Arabic word kayf, meaning unhurried or calm, “kief” in South Africa describes something that is cool, fun or awesome.

What do South Africans call their friends? ›

Bra (brah) or bru. Nothing to do with underwear at all, but an informal term for "my friend" or "mate", deriving from "brother". 'He's my bra but that team he supports is rubbish." Bru stems from the Afrikaans for brother, broer. Doing a Bafana (bah-fah-nah).

What is the most loved language in South Africa? ›

isiZulu. IsiZulu is the most widely spoken language in South Africa, the first language of close to a quarter of the population.

What are 5 different cultures in South Africa? ›

South Africa has been famously referred to as the rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures and religions. Contained within South Africa's borders are Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Tswana, Ndebele, Khoisan, Hindu, Muslim, and Afrikaner people to name but a few.

How do Zulu people greet? ›

Greetings Hello! (to one person) Sawubona! Hello! (to more than one person) Sanibonani!

How do Africans say good night? ›

Good night – Boroko!

How do Afrikaans say cheers? ›

Cheers in Afrikaans – 'Gesondheid! ' Cheers in Zulu – 'Bajabule!

How do you say hello in different styles? ›

There are many other options, but here are six of the most common formal ways to say “hello”:
  1. “Hello!”
  2. “Good morning.”
  3. “Good afternoon.”
  4. “Good evening.”
  5. “It's nice to meet you.”
  6. “It's a pleasure to meet you.” (These last two only work when you are meeting someone for the first time.)
  7. 7. “ Hi!” ( ...
  8. 8. “ Morning!” (
Jun 29, 2021

How do you say hello in 9 different languages? ›

“Hello” Around the World
  1. Chinese (Mandarin) Formal: 您好 (nín hǎo) Informal: 你好 (nǐ hǎo) ...
  2. 2. Japanese. Formal: こんにちは (Konnichiwa) ...
  3. Korean. Formal: 안녕하세요 (Anyeonghaseyo) ...
  4. French. Formal: Bonjour. ...
  5. Spanish. Both Formal and Informal: Hola. ...
  6. German. Formal: Hallo. ...
  7. Italian. Formal: Salve. ...
  8. Russian. Formal: Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte)
Apr 21, 2023

How do you call someone in South Africa? ›

First dial 011, the U.S. exit code. Next dial 27, the country code for South Africa. Then dial the 2-digit area code (see sample calling code list below) followed by the 7-digit phone number.

What accent does South Africa use? ›

South African Accent: Or the “South Efrican Eccent

At first glance, the South African accent can appear similar to a British one, which makes sense, as English was introduced to the country by British colonists. This means that, like British English, South African is non-rhotic.

What is the 12 languages in South Africa? ›

At least thirty-five languages indigenous to South Africa are spoken in the Republic, twelve of which are official languages of South Africa: Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, and English, which is the primary language used in parliamentary and state discourse, though all ...

What is hello informal? ›

'Hi' is an informal way to say 'hello'. English speakers often use it to greet their friends. However, they also use 'hi' to say 'hello' to people they don't know in an informal context.

Which is informal hi or hello? ›

For informal and personal messages you can use either Hi + name or Hello + name, as shown below. Hi is more personal and less formal.

What is simple greeting? ›

Simple and straightforward, “hi” is often used as a quick greeting in English amongst friends, coworkers, and even family.

How do you greet in different cultures in South Africa? ›

The most common greeting is a handshake accompanied with eye contact and a smile. This is appropriate among most South Africans. Handshakes may be light or firm depending on the person you are greeting. People from rural villages may use two hands to shake/greet.

What is the casual version of hello? ›

Greetings! – This informal greeting is a friendly way to say “hello” and is appropriate for most casual situations. Hello, my friend! – This informal greeting is a warm and friendly way to say “hello” to someone you are close with.

What's another word for hello? ›

What is another word for hello?
31 more rows

What are the three types of greetings? ›

Good Morning / Good Afternoon / Good Evening

These ways of greeting people are used at different times of the day.

What are the two patterns of greeting? ›

In short, the most common patterns included greeting-greeting and question-answer. Thus, these two interactional patterns may form the foundation of greeting exchanges in American English, although there can be violations of these patterns such as a question-greeting or question-no answer pattern. A: How are you?

What is art of greeting? ›

Greeting is an art. That first impression will open to door to cement relationships in a powerful way. Welcoming someone is all about the other person, not our schedule, disposition or comfort level. When we greet others we communicate their value and our approachability.

Why do South Africans say yo? ›

Yo! / Yoh!

an expression of surprise. Eina translates to “ouch” which is used to convey pain. Eish an expression of Bantu origin which conveys surprise and can be translated to “wow”. Gatvol translates to “fed-up” or “irritated” and originates from Afrikaans.

What is the Zulu way of greeting? ›

(to one person) Sawubona! Hello! (to more than one person) Sanibonani! How are you? (to one person) Unjani?

How do you say cool in South Africa? ›

Kief. Kief [kif], derived from Arabic (kayf), means cool, great, awesome or neat. Eg.

What does Baba mean in South Africa? ›

"Baba" means "father" in many of the African languages in southern Africa, with a connotation of respect attached to a highly valued social role and age.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Eusebia Nader

Last Updated:

Views: 5985

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Eusebia Nader

Birthday: 1994-11-11

Address: Apt. 721 977 Ebert Meadows, Jereville, GA 73618-6603

Phone: +2316203969400

Job: International Farming Consultant

Hobby: Reading, Photography, Shooting, Singing, Magic, Kayaking, Mushroom hunting

Introduction: My name is Eusebia Nader, I am a encouraging, brainy, lively, nice, famous, healthy, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.