Ashia/Ashiaya –Consolation meaning accept my sympathy. It could also mean “accept my condolences” in case of death of a loved one
Bébé –Baby from French. It is used to fondly address a lover like Neni does to Jonga.
Benskins –Commercial motor bikes
Bo –Fun word for friend or brother
Bolo –Work or Job
Bushboy –Village peasant boy
Boucarou –A business centreat Down beach, Limbe where fresh grilled fish, crabs, lobsters and drinks are sold.
Caraboat –A wooden house which is usually old and dilapidated
Chai –An exclamation used to express huge surprise
Chang shoes –Locally produced rubber shoes which are worn mostly during the wet seasons in Cameroon.
Chin chin –A crunchy deep fried snack consisting of a mixture of flour, margarine, sugar, milk and water.It is mixed by hand until a smooth dough is achieved before being deep fried.
Contry mimbo –Any local drink,normally sold in villages
Derrière –Behind from French. It means buttocks in the context of the novel
Egusi stew –Melon seed stew, cooked with the desiccated ground seeds of melons
Ekwang–A popular dish from Cameroon’s South West region comprising Cocoyams, cocoyam leaves, smoked fish, palm oil, water and other spices.
Gongon leaf –Megaphryniummacrostachyum. A leaf used to wrap various foods in many African countries. These leaves are believed to impart a special taste to the food which is wrapped in them.
Helele –A word used to express something which is wonderful or a little shocking
Jaburu–A type of smoked fish which is sold in local markets and used for cooking
Kaba –A puffy gown usually made from local fabric worn by women especially during pregnancy
Kai –An exclamation showing excitement or surprise
Kwacoco and banga soup –A traditional dish of the Bakweri ethnic group consisting of ground Cocoyams which are wrapped and steamed in banana leaves and eaten with palm nut soup.
Makossa–A noted Cameroonian popular urban musical style which uses strong electric bass rhythms and prominent brass. It had a wave of mainstream success across Africa in the seventies. It was popularized globally by Manu Dibango with his song, “Soul Makossa”. The chant from the song, mamako, mamasa, makamakossawas later used by Michael Jackson in “Wanna be startin’ somethin’”.
Mamami eh! –Literally, My mother! An exclamation used to express surprise
Manyaka ma lambo –A phrase in the Bakweri language meaning “terrible thing”
Masepo –A food spice with common names wild Basil or mosquito plant.
Mbutuku –A worthless person
Mukuta school bag –Back pack fabricated from a local brown cotton fibre
Molongo –A whip cut from the Cane plant which is used for corporal punishment
Ndolé –Cameroon’s national dish. An aromatic vegetable soup consisting of stewed nuts, bitter leaves indigenous to West/Central Africa and fish/beef or shrimp. It is traditionally eaten with plantain or Bobolo/Miondo.
Ngahs –Literally girls. It also refers to girlfriends or wives in different instances in the novel
Okrika –Used goods from abroad which are resold at local Cameroonian markets
Papa God –Almighty father
Papier –Literally “paper” from French. It refers to immigration papers in the context of the novel
Pays –Literally “country”from French. It means Cameroon when used by Cameroonians in the diaspora when they’re referring to their home country. Imbolo uses it in the latter context in the novel.
Paysan –A Cameroonian. Used especially by Cameroonians in the diaspora to refer to people in Cameroon
Portorportor coco –Porridge cocoyam
Poulet –Chicken from French
Puff Puff –Deep fried golf sized dough balls
Sisa–To intimidate or bully
Soya –Grilled beef
Strong Kanda –A type of smoked fish with a tough skin
Telleh –Television set
Ten nkolo –Ten thousand Francs CFA
Wolowose –A prostitute or promiscuous girl
*Commot for my front before I cam jamboxya mouth; yamamiya, yamamipima! –Get out of my sight before I get there and get your mouth punched, your mother’s cunt!
NB: There are a few other non English words in “Behold the dreamers” like “Wahala”, “Attiéké” and “Moimoi” which I intentionally left out because they are well explained on many sites and even food blogs on the internet. I focused generally on the non English words which a non Cameroonian “Behold the dreamers” reader won’t find easily on Google. If there is any non English word in the novel which you didn’t find in this list and on Google or you think my definition of a word in the novel wasn’t on point then hit me up. I’ll edit, firstname.lastname@example.org.