Travel Vocabulary


Here are a few things that you may come across if traveling to Senegal or the Gambia.

afra – grilled meat, or grilled meat stall (Gambia)

benechin – rice baked in a thick sauce of fish and vegetables (Gambia)

cadeau – gift, tip, bribe or a hand-out (Senegal)

dash – bribe (noun); also used as a verb ‘You dash me something …’ (Gambia)

Ecowas – Economic Community of West African States

factory – fortified slaving station

garage – bus and bush-taxi station (Gambia)

harmattan – the light winds from the north which carry tiny particles of sand from the desert, causing skies to become hazy from December to February

IMF – International Monetary Fund

latcheri – pounded millet

mafé – thick brown groundnut sauce

ndeup – ceremonies where people with a mental illness are treated and healed (Senegal)

occasion – lift (noun), or place in a car or bus (often shortened to occas) (Senegal)

palava – meeting place

Quran – Islamic holy book (also called Koran)

Ramsar – an international convention primarily concerned with the conservation of wetland habitats and associated wildlife

salon du thé – tea shop (Senegal)

tampon – stamp (eg, in passport) (Senegal)

ventilé – room with a fan (Senegal)

Thanks to Lonely Planet’s The Gambia & Senegal; 2nd Edition.


  1. although the source that i got these from states that garage is used in gambia exclusively i know from first hand experience that it is also used in senegal with its french pronunciation. in america we tend to think of a garage as a covered structure but often times in senegal a garage was just a huge uncovered parking lot.


  2. Here are a few words regarding tea since you mentioned salon du thé:

    Duté – tea
    Lipton – European/American tea in a tea bag
    Warga – Chinese tea
    Attaaya – Traditional tea
    Kenkiliba – Sometimes considered a medicinal tea

    Sometimes you may see people putting cloves or mint in their tea

    Xorom polle – cloves
    Naa-naa (mant) – mint

    The word for sugar is Suukër

    When people drink attaaya there are usually three progressively sweeter pours for the tea. Each pour has a specific name although my Wolof is not good enough to remember all three names.


  3. The three rounds are lewel, naarel, nettel.

    A fuurno is the grill used for making attaya and the teapot is a barada.

    The rounds getting sweeter represents friendship getting sweeter with time.

    Jamm ak jamm


  4. thats interesting…of all the attaya sessions ive had i have never heard each round being called a specific name. besides the progressively sweeter rounds representing friendship i have also heard of it representing love between a man and a woman.


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