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Toubab is a Central and West African name for a person of European descent ("whites"). Used most frequently in the Gambia, Senegal, and Mali, the term does not have derogatory connotations by itself, though it is also frequently associated with "wealthy traveler" (if one can afford to travel, then he/she must be rich). The word can also be applied to any perceived traveler - even those of black African descent with an identifiably different phenotype such as (whiter) Cape Verdeans and (blacker) Nigerians, up to foreign-raised locals (thus with a different accent) or visiting expatriates.

In God's Bits of Wood, authored by Senegalese Sembene Ousmane, the natives call the French colonizers toubab (singular) or toubabs (plural).

The name has many suggested sources, including: a likely corruption of the Arabic word Tabib meaning doctor; a verb in the Wolof language meaning "to convert" ( the early doctors and missionaries during colonial times, being whites coming from Europe ); or that it is derived from the two bob (two shilling) coin of pre-decimalisation United Kingdom currency. Another explanation is that it means 'from the sea' as the first whites arrived by ship.


In Ghana the word used for a 'white' person or foreigner is ‘Obroni’ in the local languages, those of the Akan family.

In Nigeria, the word used for a 'white' person is Oyibo. In Uganda, the word used for a white or foreign person is "mzungu"