You’re cleaning out your closets and generously decide to donate some clothes and old shoes.  You bundle them up and drop them off in one of those ubiquitous donation bins. You probably assume that it’s going to be sold in some local thrift shop or given away to poor people. Think again.

A rose by any other name…

Here’s a sampling of what second-hand clothing is called in some of the countries where it is received:

Togo – dead yovo clothing – dead white person clothing.

Ghanaobroni wa wo – a white man has died.

Nigeria – kafa ulaya  – the clothes of the dead whites.

Mozambiqueroupa da calamidade  – clothing of the calamity.

Why all the references to death?  Because only death could separate a white person from such wonderful clothing – stonewashed jeans, Burberry dresses, Nike T-shirts, and lace bras.

Sierra Leone“junks”.


TanzaniaMitumba – bundles used to refer to plastic-wrapped packages of used clothing donated by people in wealthy countries. The term is also applied to the clothing that arrives in these bundles.

ZambiaSalaula, meaning “to select from a pile in the manner of rummaging” or for short, “to pick”.

Central AmericaRopa Americana.