Banga Nify or Fafuti

Posted in travel by collinevan on June 19, 2007

Which is Malagasy for “toothless”.

I don’t know if I was the only kid who hated brushing his teeth, but my family made fun of me for it. Funny enough I have shining pearly off-whites today that I’ve been complimented on. Most people don’t know my grim dentistry history though.

When I was 12 I went to Greece with my Uncle Tony and Aunt Kathie. Tony is pretty much full-blooded Greek, so he got us around real nice. It was also my first world travel experience, so I’m glad I got it done young. As the typical boxed-in American type, I really looked like a fool who was struck with wonder when I got there. I won’t get into the stories about Sand Dunes or whatnot, but needless to say I was pretty alien to my surroundings.

My Uncle is a bit of a heckler, and found out I didn’t brush much. He started calling me “Fafuti” (or however it’s spelled). Apparently it means “toothless old lady”. Being short like I am, I bottled up a bit of resentment because I didn’t like taking heat for my short comings.

We got to Athens and quickly met up with some of Uncle Tony’s family members out there. It wasn’t what I imagined to be the raddest way to rock our vacation, but I was along for the ride.  After staying for a bit I really started paying attention to all the greek that was being thrown around. While rudely rejecting the raw octopus tentacle that was being offered me I heard my uncle say something like “blah blah blah fafuti blah blah Collin, AHAHAHAHA!”. Yeah, he was telling everyone there that I was fafuti.

The trip carried on and I became known as fafuti to basically everyone we met there.

Well I ended up becoming a bit of a traveler. I’ve been all kinds of places. Madagascar became the most unique of my destinations in every aspect.  What was the first thing I really noticed in the people?


I realized I wasn’t the only fafuti around. I found out that fafuti in Malagasy was “banga nify”. Yeah, I brush my teeth now. I do it every day in fact. But after I saw that there were other people in this world that were fafuti, or banga nify, I suddenly wanted to be known by my old title again.

I guess I should have realized that my trip to Greece was preparing me more for world travel than I knew.


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