In the Bangor Community Choir last night we started learning a new song entitled Jenga by Juliet Russell. We were told that the song uses made-up words that don’t mean anything in particular, and it has no connection to the game of Jenga.

One of my friends thought the word jenga might mean something like ‘to build’ in Swahili, so I thought I’d investigate.

Jenga does indeed mean to construct or build in Swahili [source], and the as the inventor of the game, Leslie Scott, grew up in East Africa speaking English and Swahili, it is likely that the name of the game comes from that Swahili word.

Related words include:

– jengo = building
– mjenzi = builder
– ujenzi = architecture; construction, installation

Source: Online Swahili – English Dictionary

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