Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Origin & Meanings Of The Word "Alafia"

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revision- Cebruary 6, 2018

This pancocojams post provides excerpts of several online articles/discussions about the origin and meanings of the word "alafia".

The Addendum to this post showcases a video of one example of the dance and song "Funga Alafia".

The content of this post is presented for etymological, historical, and cultural purposes.

Note: I compile hyperlinked excerpts of online articles/discussion threads to make pancocojams visitors aware of these resources and to help increase the likelihood that those online articles/discussion threads will be preserved for the historical and cultural record.

I encourage pancocojams readers to click on those links and read the full articles/discussion threads.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

The first time that I heard the word "alafia" was from African Americans in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1990s. I was told that "alafia" (pronounced ah-LAH-fee-ah) was a Yoruba (Nigeria) greeting word that means "hello" or "welcome".

In 2000 when I was considering what name to give to the African centered cultural organization that I was developing, I remembered the word "alafia". At that time I was aware of an African clothing shop in Pittsburgh which was named "Alafia". I contacted the owner/operator of that shop and learned that she was Yoruba. When I asked her the meaning of the word "Alafia" she said that it was a greeting word that meant "peace". In part as a result of that conversation, I decided to name my organization "Alafia Cultural Service". Shortly thereafter I named the children's cultural group that I developed within that organization "Alafia Children's Ensemble" I and everyone else usually shortened that name to "Alafia". And from 2002 through most of 2004 I published an online website on traditional African names, Arabic names, and other names that were/may still be considered "different" for African Americans. I chose "AlafiaNames" as that website's name.

In 2011 I published a three part series in this pancocojams blog on the song "Funga Alafia". In the first post in that series I provided the information that the song "Funga Alafia" which afrocentric African Americans usually believe is a Nigerian song was actually composed by African American LaRocque Bey in 1959, or the early 1960s. Furthermore, although "alafia" is usually considered a Yoruba word, the word "funga" is actually a corrupted form of the West African word "fanga".

Two days ago while searching online about another subject, I happened upon an article on the Nigerian discussion forum about whether the word "alafia" was originally Yoruba or if it was borrowed by Yoruba speakers from Arabic or from a Hausa (Nigeria) form of Arabic. That discussion's participants (most if not all of whom appear to be from Africa) disagreed about the answer to that question and also disagreed about the meaning/s of the word "alafia". However, after reading that discussion, I'm inclined to believe that the word "alafia" was borrowed from the Hausas who borrowed it from Arabic.

Reading that discussion prompted me to search for other online articles/discussions about the origin and meanings of the word "alafia". And that online search led to this pancocojams blog.

These excerpts & their selected comments are given in relative chronological order. I've numbered the excerpts for referencing purposes only.

Article Excerpt #1:
From ALAAFIA IS NOT AN AFRIKAN WORD Nor Does It Mean "Peace" by Awotunde, 4-12-2007
"As we move forward towards cultural restoration and reconstitution we must be aware of many of the bumps on the road the we ourselves create for ourselves. Part of this is our misuse of language in Afrikan tradition. Many if not most people in the tradition use the word “alaafia” or “alafia” as some form of greeting to one another. This is problematic for several reasons.

This will not be a long discourse so let’s get right to the point. The word alaafia is not an Yoruba or Afrikan word at all. Period. Let’s look at the root.

alafia: grace; pardon; mercy; health. From Andalusian Arabic al afya ultimately from “Classical” Arabic afiyah ([ch1593][ch1575][ch1601][ch1610][ch1577]) "health”...

Some may say “Well, the Yoruba say it”. Well, that is how this whole thing started from the first place. I must first say that the Yoruba do not use alaafia towards each other as they do when communicating with us. That is one thing for New Afrikan people to contemplate in and of itself. But the Yoruba themselves got this word from the islamicized Hausa of present day Nigeria. There is nothing wrong with cultural exchange between Afrikan ethnic. However, when that exchange is foreign and creates confusion within the spiritual traditions and culture of Afrikans then there is a great problem here. The Hausa form of this word if “lafia”. The Yoruba so-called indigenized it by adding the “a” in the beginning. On page 30 of Kayode Fakinlede’s “Beginner’s Yoruba” one can find a list of arab words that have been infiltrated into the Yoruba language. He has alafia listed there as meaning “good health”. Interesting enough, he also has another arabic word there that I have seen many Afrikans here use. This is the word “adura” which is arabic for prayer. The Yoruba word for prayer is “ìwuré”. And to solve the “alafia” problem one Yoruba word I run into that means “peace, calm, kwk” is örê.”...
The author of this article is African American, and it appears from reading the comments that most of the commenters (unless they otherwise identify themselves) are African American.

Comments from that article's discussion thread:
04-13-2007, Kentake
Bro.Awotunde asante sana 4 starting this thread. i recently went out 2 dinner w/my cousin 2 this new nigerian restaurant here and i overheard some bros greeting each other w/"Alafia". i must admit i was confused, i heard u and others say b4 dat it is an arab word but then i hear nigerians use it sooooo much i was asking myself ?? it is AMAZING how the Arab culture/language etc. has been SOOOO INTERTWINED AND BASICALLY INTER-MARRIED w/INDIGENOUS AFREEKAN CULTURE/LANGUAGE. it is at the point that WE cannot tell the difference btwn the 2"...
"Notice that the writer uses the Egyptian word "hotep" meaning peace that was adopted by afrocentric African Americans (by at least the 1980s)* with the KiSwahili words "asante sana" (meaning "thank you very much) to discuss what is generally considered a Yoruba (Nigerian) word.

Click for a pancocojams post about the African American uses of the Egyptian word "hotep".

Article Excerpt #2

From Alafia Does Not Come From Africa by brotherpeacemaker, April 23, 2007
"When I was introduced into the world of African spirituality everybody I met at the first ile I attended greeted me with the word alafia. Everybody said it. I use it regularly when I write or talk to people who practice Ifa. Which is why I took the article titled “Alaafia is Not an Afrikan Word Nor Does It Mean Peace” very seriously.

After reading the article I was initially angry. Here we are in the Diaspora doing our best to maintain some connection to our African heritage in America, the one place that makes it the most difficult for a black man to keep his roots, and we find out now that we may have been bamboozled into using this word as a greeting. You can’t trust anybody these days. Why am I trying to use African words anyway? Why not use the language I know best and trust the most for my communications with people who practice Ifa?...
I have run across way too many Africans within the tradition who never bothered to educate me on the word alafia and I started to feel betrayed by each and every one. My insecurity of not being African but trying to embrace the African ways began to get the better of me.....

One thing we must remember is that just about every language still used today is influenced by and influential on other languages. Just about every word in the English dialect is rooted in languages from other cultures. Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, and many more, contribute to what we mainly speak here in the United States and commonly refer to as English. A culture that considers itself part of the global community will have no choice but to submit to the influence of other cultures. Should African languages be an exception and made immune from the influence of other languages? The greeting of alafia is widely accepted and recognized as a positive welcome. Today in the Diaspora it means peace. Because it may be rooted in an Arabic word that means health in that language doesn’t mean that its current definition is invalid.
I remember a while ago the politicians of France passed, or at least tried to pass, a law to stop the influence of other languages on the French language. At the time I thought the move was pretty xenophobic. I remember when some politician in the United States wanted to rename french fries to freedom fries. I remember thinking that was stupid as well. Language will evolve. It always has and it always will. Artificial limits as to what can or as to what cannot be the evolutionary process of a particular language will not be successful.

Like most people I doubt if I will stop saying alafia when I greet people who practice African spirituality. I say it as an offering of peace. The people I greet with alafia accept it as an offering of peace. We have made a successful communication. And isn’t that the entire point of language?"
Here are selected comments from this article's discussion thread. I've numbered these comments for referencing purposes only. These comments were retrieved on Feb. 18, 2017. On that date, the article indicates that there are a total of 51 comments. However, the article only shows 45 comments.
1. brotherpeacemaker, May 20, 2008

You are probably right that ‘alafia’ is not of true ‘Yoruba’ origin (whatever that means), and was probably imported in some sense. However, I am pretty sure this is the standard greeting one uses (at least this is what I hear my parents say to other Yoruba-speaking Nigerians), so you should definitely feel comfortable using it.

Moreover, my own sense is that Yoruba culture and African cultures more generally are very inclusive. There is no shame in borrowing words and good ideas from other cultures, it is what I think makes us strong."

2. brotherpeacemaker, June 17, 2008
"Alafia fun e ( peace be with you),

Quest is an attribute of Seek, to seek is to be open to greater true possibility, in human nature there exist the potential to make others inferior at the expense of the other been superior.
The word ALAFIA to me as a yoruba means Peace, tranquility,wellness,calmness and good tidings coming from the person that say the word.

I wouldn’t want to engage in a dialogue that removes from these attributes from a word with a potent spiritual power,similar to ASHE (the seal to making it happen).

so, brother (unique male sibling)peacemaker(giver of good tidings).

Alafia O, mo se iba( I come with respect).

3. babalola, August 18, 2008
"Bismillaah. Salaam/Peace. This is getting to me! i need to know. What does alafia mean?

Salaam. Wafi
Bismillah (Arabic: بسم الله‎‎ "In the name of God" or "In the name of Allah") is the first word in the Quran and the incipit (the shortened form) of the basmala, a name for the Quran's opening phrase in Arabic, bismillāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm ("In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the most Merciful").

4. Wafi, October 14, 2012
"Bismillaah. Salaam/Peace. oops sorry...

The word ALAFIA to me as a yoruba means Peace, tranquility,wellness,calmness and good tidings coming from the person that say the word.
The ellipses (...) were written in this comment.

5. brotherpeacemaker, August 18, 2008
"My dad’s name is Banji Olabanji in yoruba is “to go with honor” while in Japanese, Banji means “everything”. You will find that there are alot of phonetically similar words in West African languages and Japanese, but i hardly think that we can conclude Yoruba people are naming their kids with Japanese words.

There’s a lot that we just don’t know about the migration of people, the origin of some cultural traditions, etc. Do we know for sure that the use of the “alaafia” by Africans coincided with the introduction of the Arabic language to the Yoruba or vice versa, i.e., was this a common term in the Arabic language before or after their migration into SS Africa? Who knows.

Even here in the US, you find double meaning to slang depending on which ethnic group is using it. Remember “getting jiggy”? For urban AA’s, that meant to be well dressed, looking good. But for suburban whites “getting jiggy” meant having sex with people. And back in the day, “getting jiggy” meant to act crazy or jittery. Could be cross cultural influence, could be evolution, could be, whatever.

Just thought it was jumping the gun for the author of the article you cited to conclude it was anti-African to use that term."

6. Jina, January 11, 2009
"I am Nigerian. Born and raised in Ibadan, a Yoruba city. Alafia or Alaafia IS a yoruba word. My mother uses it. My grandfather uses it. People in Nigeria use it. Just because it might have its roots (even thats debatable) in arabic doesnt make it non-yoruba. There are a lot of english words that have their root in latin or french. But they are still english words. Same with Alaafia. Its a yoruba word."

7.brotherpeacemaker, December 16, 2009
"Arabs are just mixed Africans who deny the African in their blood…so the term is African in origin."

8. Adifun, September 9, 2011
"Alafia is a standard greeting/response in the Kabye region of Togo. In the Kabye language alafia in very general terms can be translated to the equivalent of ca-va in French, being both a question and a response (although in strict terms the question should be alafi’we). The spelling is debatable but the pronunciation is alafia."
Google translate from French to English “ca-va” = It’s okayJina, January 11, 2009 | Reply

9. Sarah Gledhill, October 2, 2011
"Thank you for writing this article to bring clarity to the words of greeting we so easily embrace without question. Though it may have another meaning other than “peace” I believe that it’s not only the words we speak but the way in which we speak it that relays the intention from the heart of the speaker.

Alafia ashe (the life force of health, peace) reside within and around you brother Peacemaker… Stay blessed!"
Here's some information about "ashe" (ase) from
"Ase (or às̩e̩ or ashe[1]) is an African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to make things happen and produce change. It is given by Olodumare to everything - gods, ancestors, spirits, humans, animals, plants, rocks, rivers, and voiced words such as songs, prayers, praises, curses, or even everyday conversation. Existence, according to Yoruba thought, is dependent upon it.[2]
In addition to its sacred characteristics, ase also has important social ramifications, reflected in its translation as "power, authority, command." A person who, through training, experience, and initiation, learns how to use the essential life force of things to willfully effect change is called an alaase."...

10. D. M'Chelle, November 6, 2011
"I am a high priest of Yoruba or babalow.I don’t know what circles of Yoruba you have been hanging around but alafia is only use when throwing coconuts I have never heard it used as hello its when all four coconut pieces are white side up and is a tentative yes your supposed throw again I’m always greeted with iboru iboya iboche che Myself as a babalow you also can’t compare Cuban Yoruba and african.Cuban has been influenced by Spanish for years it’s only in the last 100 years that everything has been put in books it was an oral tradition for centuries I think you need to check who your hanging with unfortunately their are a lot of shady people involved with Santeria just like any religion if their asking for thousands of dollars and want to fix every problem with blood sacrifices and receiving saints run their in it fornthe wrong reasons back in the day in Cuba babalow were humble and just charged enough to you I wanted to stay in touch with my roots what I found disturbed me the worst thing is nigerians are going to Cuba to receive powers because slot of the rituals have been lost in africa after so many years of conflict and war many babalows lost their lives so much has been preserved and at the same time perverted in Cuba it’s a shame"
This is only a portion of this comment.

11. TuWanda J. Locke, October 9, 2012
"We spend so much time studying the roots did we end up not picking the fruits. The word Alaafia was the name of my godfather and teacher Renard Simmons a babalawo and a Sango priest, who’s odu in Ifa was Otura Meji. In the odu of Otura Meji I was taught that is where the birth of the muslims appear in Ifa and that Muhammad was a student of Orunmila. This being the belief than we have to wonder who is borrowing from whom?? So the word alaafia meaning wellness and the accepted meaning is “good health” and health being the number one of all blessings according to the precepts of Orunmilism under the direction of Olodumare ( Almighty God). I think this word is so important for us as African Americans to be able to distinguish ourselves from native born Africans. As we Africans born in the diaspora find out so connected to religious beliefs that we can connect to our true self with external of Christiany we will recognize the value of self-definition. The sixties and earlier then the sixties African American spent so much time trying to create and recreate our African selves. However, no matter how much we try together recreate our African selves we are still a people that has a very distinctive history outside of Africa. How far does an Apple roll away from the tree that it’s no longer “is” an apple. The answer “is” no matter how far an apple rolls away from it tree it is still an Apple. We in the diaspora no matter how far we are way from our mother Africa we are still African people with the same needs and wants of knowing ourselves, our ancestry, and how we are remembered in history. We as a people hence are trying to recreate ourselve as well as developing our person. Alaafia is a word for us in the diaspora that helps you find us as a people with a specific experience and with a unique past. Maybe in speaking of peace, wellness, and health the speaking become a reality in all our lives."

12. Guttersnipe, March 15, 2014
"Can’t believe the rant about a word not being of African origin. What does it matter? It’s widely used by the Yoruba people and Ifa initiates. “Chow” (ciao) is widely used by amharic speaking people of ethiopia primarily because of the temporary presence of the italians. Finally if you are a descendent of slave/afrikan ancestery in the u.s.a., the predominant reality is that everything is stolen and/or bastardized………..”ALAFIA” (peace & wellness)
The ellipses were found in this comment.

13. Fredrik Jones, June 22, 2015
"I was forwarded this blog in which the word “Alafia” was challenged as NOT being a Yoruba word. You credit it as being a modern invention, influenced by Arab languages. On page 28 of “A Vocabulary of the Yoruba Language” (published in 1852), an entry for Alafia exists. And, yes, it means “peace.” It ALSO means “health.” This is an original edition. I have an electronic copy if anyone would like to see for themselves. The writer of that blog, I’m afraid, has eaten one too many bitter grapes. It has made his words sour."
Here's a website which includes the full text of the book that this commenter referred to: A vocabulary of the Yoruba language by Crowther, Sammuel Adjai, bp., 1806?-1891; Vidal, Owen Emeric, 1819-1854; published 1852

14. Ochani Lele, July 29, 2015
"Peace Brothers and sisters alike,
I am not African, however can trace my roots there, I am Cuban. I was born and raised in the religion. I am currently in path to be a Babaaláwo and honestly I have never ever heard the term “alafia” until I moved to Atlanta. We have always used the term Aché , or when speaking to a Babaalawo we open with Iboru iboya iboshishe”. I was so confussed when I first heard it lol. I havent met many brothers and sisters so if any one is open to meeting, please let me know. Aché to all of you"

15. Tony Snow, May 9, 2016
"Who cares? Al-Afia comes from an Arabic word meaning well-being/health/prosperity. The modern term is Allah yatikul Afia. May God grant you goodness. Islam spread everywhere, all the way “to Timbuktu”. Timbuktu was one of the highest and largest centers for learning and Islamic scholarship in all of Africa. Eventually a small commune there was named Alafia. Town of goodness/peace/well being. So in the end Alafia is both African and Arabic. Not unlike name such as Aisha or Aliyah. So what’s the problem?


A Muslim, of African American and direct West African descent"

Re: The Meaning Of Peace In The Different Nigerian Languages

[Pancocojams Editor: This is the discussion which I referred to in the beginning of this post. The discussion is found on three pages, and comments are given about other Nigerian languages besides Yoruba. However, this excerpted portion only includes some of the comments about the word "alafia". My sense is that unless they indicate otherwise, the commenters are Nigerian.

I've added italics to highlight when the commenters are quoting a previous poster.

These comments are numbered for referencing purposes only.]

1. NegroNtns(m):, Mar 17, 2013
...alaafia is considered the word for peace in yoruba, although i previously thought alaafia simply meant health or wellbeing.

even if you google it, alaafia is what comes up”

“lol! thank you but google cannot teach me my tongue. yoruba has no function for health. we talk about balance....wellbeing!

alafia - wellbeing
ayesi - honor
ibukun - blessing
ere - success
ola - prosperity

ire – peace”

2. NegroNtns(m), Mar 17, 2013
That being the case, then alaafia should primarily mean health, or well being.

Maybe in some areas, its meaning is peace.

"in western culture they focus on health and less on wellbeing.

in yoruba customs we strive for balance....the wellbeing of the individual."

3. NegroNtns(m), Mar 18, 2013
..."Using European language to equate meaning to Yoruba words will result in precisely the outcome you stated in the bold. We must not say because there is a word called health in English, then Yoruba must also have a word to match it. Our language is functional and with intimate values to them. European languages are generally conceptual and detached from the originality of mankind.

Iwa is part of wellbeing, omoluabi is part of wellbeing, kaaro o jire is part of wellbeing, ise logun ise is part of wellbeing,........ all these and many more like them are part of homeopathy and balance in mind, spirit and body. Yoruba sees the individual as an integral part of the cosmic force and when he/she is attuned in mind, in spirit and in body to the elements and nature then a state of balance is attained. This balance is his/her state of wellbeing. Alafia!"

4. NegroNtns(m), Mar 18, 2013
i checked google to get more info, not that i found much.

one blog claimed farabale is peace [not exactly correct], since alaafia is a loan word from hausa or arabic.

"alafia is an authentic and original yoruba word, it is not loaned from anywhere or anyone."

5. YorubaOmoge, Mar 18, 2013

Ire means blessing.

Alafia - wellbeing or peace (of mind/body)

ex: Ire oluwa- blessing of God"
"Negro" here refers to the commenter who is using that screen name.


6. wwwdotnscdc(m), Mar 20, 2013
Ire means blessing or honour.

I'm not sure there's any word meaning peace, in yoruba.

"iro ni o.*

Ire = Goodness
Ibukun = Blessing
Iyi = Honour

Peace = Alafia

Wellbeing is also refered to as alafia ara (peace of the body)."
Google translate from Yoruba to English gives "iro ni o" as "Fake it." However, at least in the context of that comment, I think it probably means something harsher.

7. tlops(m), Mar 20, 2013
"ire-ayo. Blessings of Joy.

Ire- goodness

Greetings: Alaafia fun onile yi o. Peace unto this household.

Response:Alaafia fun eni ti o n bo. Peace be unto d visitor."


8. YorubaOmoge, Mar 20, 2013
alexola20: Kini a npe ni "ifokanbale" ni ede yoruba.

I think "peace" should be simply translated to "ifokanbale"in yoruba language.


“Peace also means ifokanbale when you're talking about an individual's peaceful state of mind.

But peace in general . . . .i.e world peace. . . . then it's alaafia.

I.e Mo wa ni alaafia. . . .I'm in peace.

Alaafia la wa. . . . we're in peace or wellbeing

9. StarFlux, Nov 03, 2013
"Ìrẹ̀ or ìrẹ̀lẹ̀ can also mean peace. Ìfarabalẹ̀ can also be used as already mentioned when talking about a state of mind.

Peaceful - onírẹ̀lẹ̀ (person), jẹ́jẹ́ etc.

Àlàáfíà is not an original Yoruba word, and it doesn't really mean peace. It's better to avoid the word."

Facebook post [given as Article #4 without any posted comment responses]
From IFA: Òrìṣa Scientific Spirituality, July 12, 2016 ·
"For many, the Yoruba term "alafia" (also spelled alaafia) is used to mean "inner-peace" and said as a greeting like the use of the Kemetic word "hotep" and the Arabic word "salaam."

In the past ten years, there has been much controversy about the term alafia and whether or not it is truly Yoruba or derived from Arabic.

It is noted that the Yoruba word alafia shares its meaning with the Hausa (Northern Nigerians) word "lafiya" which means good health. They derived the word from Arabic's al-afiyah which means "the good health." When said as "zaman lafiya" in Hausa, it comes to mean innerpeace.

The indigenous Yoruba word for good health is ilera. Hence the popular Yoruba phrase, "Ilera loro" which means "health is wealth."

However, does all this mean that alafia is not a Yoruba word? Not necessarily. Let us break down the term alafia. We see immediately the word "ala." This word means "untainted" or "incorruptible" (often a synonym for inner-peace) and can be found in the name of ObatALA, who is the orisha of that which is untainted incorruptible innerpeace and thus his name (oba means king) can translate as "the king of peace."
The Yoruba word ala also means (especially in the Yoruba tone of alafia) "dream." The word "fi" is a verb meaning "to show, reveal or expose." Thus, the etymology of alafia or alafi can be Yoruba meaning to "reveal one's dreams," suggesting the ability to manifest one's dreams which is associated with a state of satisfaction that is the quintessential ingredient of "inner-peace."

All of this being said, alafia (whether indigenous or of Arabic origin) is not traditionally a greeting as seen in the Arab's salaam. That is definitely an attempt for people to immitate the Arab's greeting pattern of "peace" instead of learning Yoruba conversational protocol.

The Yoruba did not generally say "inner-peace" to a person because that is a metaphysical cultivation practice that they cannot offer you but that you offer yourself thru meditation on Obatala. Pretending to have the power to bless strangers is a part of the Abrahamic myth that an external force gives your peace and not yourself. In IFA: Yoruba Scientific Spirituality, we do not engage in such illusions. However, we have our own sacred greetings which were reminders. We begin this with the word E ku (eeku) which means "to handle." Thus we greet with the reminders of:
E ku aaro: Handle the morning.
E ku osan: Handle the afternoon.
E ku irole: Handle the evening.

These are often mistranslated as good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, yet the word "good" is ire and we see it no where in these words. We don't pretend to psychically bless others in our greetings, but to REMIND them of their ability to handle/take control of their day. E ku aaro, e ku osan, e ku irole!!!!!!!


MetroPerforms Showcase - "Funga Alafia" by Nana Malaya

The Kennedy Center, Published on Oct 9, 2013

The Millennium Stage partners with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to present some of the best D.C. area street performers.
Here's some information about this multifaceted dancer, choreographer, speaker, teacher, and entrepreneur:

Nana Malaya is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One of her children is movie and television actor Lamman Rucker.

The poem "I Am the Original Dance Machine" (3:20 in this video) was written by New York City dancer/choreographer Bob Johnson, who also lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in 1969/1970 was the founder of the Pittsburgh Black Theater Dance Ensemble. Nana Malaya was a member of this esteemed dance company.

Ase, Nana Malaya!
Here's some information about the title "Nana" (pronounced nah nah) from
..."In Ghana, among the Akan people, particularly the Akyem, Ashanti and Akuapim peoples, Nana is used as the title of a monarch to signify their status. Furthermore, the stool name of kings and queens is always preceded by Nana. Non-royal Ghanaian people also use Nana as a given name. In some cases, they may adopt the name Nana, if they have been named after a monarch. In Ghana, one can respectfully refer to a King or Queen as Nana without mentioning their full name."

Click for additional videos of "Funga Alafia".


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  1. Here's a definition of the word "alafia" that I happened upon today while searching online for information about the word "lucumi":

    From A Glossary of Lucumi Words and Ideas

    "Alafia – Lucumí for “peace,” Alafia is one of the orientations of coconut divination, in which all four white sides face up."

  2. Here's another quote about the word "alafia" in Cuban Lukumi:
    "A language never is static. Many people, even Nigerian Yorùbá, are surprised when they hear that “àláfíà“, a very widespread word even in the diaspora, is originally an arabic word meaning ”peace” - among many other arabic words. "...

    1. Also from,
      "We know that “Santeria” adopted a lot from European imagery, but it was new to me that also the language was influenced in this way.

      This reminds me on a trip to Havana. I was walking along the streets and a man was passing by with his bicycle shouting to his friend “Salam Alaykum“, the friend responded “Alaykum Salam“. First I thought I might have witnessed two people of the obviously very small Muslim Cuban community. Later I was told that this is an “African greeting“ used by Abakua or Paleros and today I see it written on Facebook like “Nsala Maleko“ in a kind of imagined “Congo-way“ or "Bantu-style" spelling of a once arabic Muslim greeting. Many slaves sold to the colonies were Muslims in fact, as also back home the Yorùbá had Hausa-slaves, whose rebellion once even brought the kingdom of Oyo to fall. Today in Cuba it is the code for greeting other initiates of the same belief, but has nothing to do with Islam anymore."

    2. All make good points. Alafia Is of arabic origin. For those that desire pure Afrakan words it can be frustrating. However unlike with english loan words arabic itself is of indigenous afrakan base. Yet Afrakan is Afrakan and arab is arab. The real solution is to get abetta b intimate understanding of the language and know the alternatives as well protect and guard it from any and all "unnecessary" corruptions. All languages have loan words, the questions are, are they, needed, proper, and or forced. Many things have actually been forced on us. Another more deeper problem is people do not think or study. This is way I say a more intimate knowledge of the language is needed and gave my solution of alternatives and considering need, what is proper, if it is an unneeded word of oppressive origin? Also keep in mind Yoruba must be protected and it is being destroyed and corrupted. This why they have almost universally lost their own indigenous word for rice although other ethnic groups around them know the word for rice,an grain that was in West Afrakan for thousands of years and quite like before it was in India. It many Yoruba are unaware just as they are unaware that the Hausa gave them the name Yoruba and its original meaning. So think and study and we restore ourselves from slavery, colonialism,and all forms of oppression,as well as unneeded foreign influence.

    3. Thanks for your comment, Unknown.

      I appreciate you sharing your opinions here on pancocojams.

  3. I use Alafià to send PEACE and Love
    Energy to whom I say it too.
    To empower you and uplift you.
    I feel extremely comfortable saying it, in fact, it rolls off my tongue like it’s home and not to forget to mention comes out soOoo Beautifully.
    It’s the energy that WE give it.
    English on the other I had to learn how to make
    A new sound that went against my whole way of being but still in my power learn and know.
    English was made up and learned.
    We are forever evolving nothing stays the same.
    Give thanks and grow.
    Nana Ëfuru Kori

    1. Thanks for your comment, Nana Ëfuru Kori

      Alafia and Ase!

  4. There is no definitive proof that the Yoruba word "Alafia" is of Arabic descent. What most people don't understand is that cognates existing in different languages ≠ loanwords. "Afia" is a common Akan name for children born on Friday. "Alaafin" is the title of the traditional ruler of Oyo. The word "Ala" in basal Yoruba dialects has several meanings. The word "fia" as it's spelled using the Latin alphabet is actually a combination of the words "fi awa" which roughly means "give us". There's even an Alafia River in Florida (Alafia meaning "river of fire" in this context). The fact that "lafiya" is a Hausa word doesn't even guarantee it that it's an Arabic loanword, as Hausas were considered pagan until the Fulani jihads of the early 19th century. As stated above, when Samuel Ajayi Crowther published his Yoruba dictionary in 1852, he recorded the word "Alafia". Islam was not a major influence on the residents of Yorubaland at that time, as Yorubaland was considered to be part of the dar-al-hab (territory of war) by Muslims due to their adherence to their native religion. As a result, Arabic loanwords were highly unlikely to have entered Yoruba lexicon at that particular point. There is even less of a chance that the word could have been adopted for widespread use within such a short period of time.

    Source: I am Yoruba and my name is Alafia

    1. Thanks for your comment, Alafia.

      I appreciate learning this information.

      To clarify, you are saying that cognates that exist in different languages aren't always loanwords.

      You wrote "The word "Ala" in basal Yoruba dialects has several meanings. The word "fia" as it's spelled using the Latin alphabet is actually a combination of the words "fi awa" which roughly means "give us".
      end of quote

      What were you told the Yoruba meaning of your name Alafia is?

  5. I was always told that my name roughly meant "peace". But when interpreted literally:
    àlá = dream
    fí = to use/apply
    á = áwá (us)
    While I'm no expert in our native faith, our dreams are said to be connected to our Órì (higher selves). Which is why we place great importance on dreams in Yorubaland. Seeing as Yoruba languages in their oldest, "purest" forms are all deeply intertwined with the native faith, it can be inferred that the phrase "álàfìá" originally meant something along the lines of "our Órì taking precedence (or dominion) over our being". It's difficult to say exactly what it means in English because many common Yoruba phrases tend to reflect the agglugnative (abstract) nature of the languages as opposed to their isolating (literal) nature.

    1. Thanks for your response, Anonymous.

      I appreciate it!

  6. Alafia is of arabic origin but in the quest of overcoming global white supremacy racism, slavery,and colonization we forget Arabic like all Semetic languages is an Afro-Asiatic ( origin Africa and extended into Asia) or what should be technically called Ethiopic, and descend from Ge'ez. All Arabic corruptions of indigenous African languages can be corrected by using the original proper and correct Ge'ez pronunciation.

    1. Thanks for sharing that information, Anonymous July 15, 2022.

  7. Concerning alafia from alafiyah we should consider and seek a pure Afrakan form of the word which likely may be in Ge'ez , since it's older than arabic. Since arabic descend from Ge'ez we should see if an original form still exist that we can use. The same should be done for arab corruption of Swahili. Swahili is a Bantu language and all terms should be the same or mirror their Kikongo relatives. So Kikongo should replace arab terms and when not available original Ge'ez. So in Swahili the number 6 should not be situ but saambanu as in Kikongo. * If the Kikongo term for 6 were not available then the term should be sitdhisitu or sidisitu which is the original Ge'ez source of the arabic. We remember we taught them.
    As for alafia until better research is done of manner previously described, I say Afriyah. Afraka's original divine state of peace and freedom. Af - flesh or body especially considering we original and our sacrifice to humanity. Ra- divine creative life force, embodied by symbol of the sun, followed by "i" showing activity of, Ra. Thus imply rays of light, life giving creative force and enlightenment. [ I ] yah, iya- Yoruba for mother, as in Afraka and place of origin,womb of wombs, exalted queen mother. Aah or Yah, Khamatiu word for moon, moon divinity, great, feminine mystical aspect. Which is Hebrew origin of the word for god Yah, Yahweh,Yeoyah. So consider a for awọn, we in Yoruba. Fa, short for Ifa, word of god or divination method. Afárá- bridge, that bridges the Yoruba linguistic expressions with linguistic history connection to Afro Asiatic languages of Khamat, which it does.As well as
    Afraka: ancient khamatiu, af- flesh( especially of a sacrifice).
    Ra- NTR - divinity or divine manifestation of creative life force. Ka- spirit. Flesh of Ra's Ka.

    1. Anonymous, thank you for sharing that linguistic information.
      I appreciate it.

  8. Àlerafiá - ( a ) pronoun, he, him, she, it, we.
    ( Ilera ), health.
    ( Fi) preposition, by, to, with.
    ( A!) expression of surprise and admiration.
    Health, and well being. By extension peace.

    1. Thanks, Anonymous.
      What language is that information from?