20 Most Commonly Used Kenyan Slangs and their Meanings

The word Sheng is actually derived from the two national languages: SwaHili and ENGlish, the specific letters were merged to form the famous ‘SHENG’ name. Though Sheng has recently become so popular it actually originated in the 1950s in Nairobi’s city slum commonly known as Eastligh short for Eastlands. Sheng words are majorly borrowed from the Swahili and English words, also from various Kenyan ethnic groups including the Kikuyu, Luo, Kamba and Luhya.

Like any other slang, Sheng in Kenya is used mainly by youth and children including the young generation commonly referred to as the digital gen. The thing with Kenyan slang is that it evolves very quickly, with time new Sheng words come up to replace the old ones. If you actually went away for about 3 – 5 months, when you come back you might find 50% of the words are new and it will be hard for you to get the meaning. Though Sheng is a common language in the Kenya’s towns and cities, each region has its own variety on a set of terms.


Below is a list of 20 Most Commonly Used Kenya Slangs and their Meanings, other Sheng words related to them and example in a sentence.

20 Most Commonly Used Kenya Slangs and their Meanings

1. Madha

Refers to mother, its pronunciation is borrowed from the English word.

Other related words include:-

Mathe, Mnyaka, Moda, Masa

Mathe anakuita – Mom is asking for you.

 2. Mburungo

Refers to cargo

Wapi mgurungo za me? – Where are my cargos?

You notice that ‘me’ has been used to refer to mine.

 3. Sonko

The term refers to a rich person. On another circumstance it can be used to refer to a boss, mostly you can refer to your employer as Sonko and not necessarily because he or she is rich.

Other related Sheng word to use is:


Sonko wangu amego tao – My boss has gone to town

Yule mse ni Sonko – That guy is rich.

 4. Pack

This is borrowed from the English. In Sheng it means to reside or live

He packs in Westy – He resides in Westlands

Westy is the short form of Westlands.

 5. Chapaa

Refers to money

Other words include:-

Dau, Doh, Mkwanja, Ganji, Cheddar

Nipe mkwanja – give me money

Sina Dau – I don’t have money

 Different values include:-

Thao – 1000 sh.

Punch – 500 sh.

Rwabe – 200 sh.

Soo, Red – 100 sh.

Chuani, finje – 50 sh.

Mbao, blue – 20 sh.

Ashu, kinde – 10 sh.

Kobole, ngovo – 5 sh.

This is commonly used by touts

 6. Ocha

Refers to up country or rural home

Other related words include:-

Ushago, Mashinani, Moshatha

Ameenda ocha kuona mapero – he/she has gone to up country to visit his/her parents

 7. Sasa

In Sheng it is used as greetings, mostly as a way of saying ‘How are you?’

You can also use ‘Niaje’

Niaje buda ? – How are you man?

It is often replied by ‘Poa’ or’ Fiti’, meaning ‘Good’ or ‘ok’

 8. Ndai

Refers to car

Other slang words include:-

Ndiga, moti murenga

Where is the moti? – Where is the car?

 9. Dame

Refers to a girl or a chick

Other related words include:-

Msupa, Mresh, Shore, Manzi

Msupa wako yuko area – Your chick is around

 10. Mangware

Means very early in the morning

Unikujie mangware tafadhali – please come for me early in the morning