"Ungowah": from where?

This word, usually pronounced “oon-GOW-uh,” which seems to precede an ominous statement from a “native” in a jungle movie, doesn’t seem to mean anything–or does it? (Yes, this is a word I used in a trivia thread recently, but I got no answer on.)
Was it just concocted by a creative script writer or is it really a word in an African language?

Dunno, but I’m more familiar with it in the context of “Uh, ungowah. Uh Uh Ungowah” from some obscure, long forgotton high school cheer. (Which is odd since I don’t recall ever going to a game.) ::shrugs::

Now there’s nothing unexpected about the water giving out; “Land” is not a word we have to shout.

I believe it means, “Hide the Monkey Paw collection Paw, the white men are coming!”

Then again, this may just be the literal translation.

I may be wrong, but I think I heard this word used in old (as in 50s or thereabouts) Tarzan movies.

I heard it as “Honk Honk Ungawaa Black Power!” On the old Showtime sitcom Sherman Oaks. I think it was the one with the racist parrot.

Where’s my side of FUN!?


It is the battle cry of Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman, from the comic of the same name.

Perked Ears indicate curiosity - Know Your Cat

“Ungawah, ungawah, ungawah… heh!
Ungawah, ungawah, ungawah… heh!”

This the rousing cheer of Young United Nations Conference (as recited by an “African” Eddie Murphy and a “Jamaican” Dan Akroyd in Trading Places)

I don’t know what it means, but Jamie Lee Curtis had great tits in htat scene!

Voted Best Sport
And narrowly averted the despised moniker Smiley Master

Forward deployed until 18AUG00

I thought they were saying

“Moompoodoo Moompoodoo Moompoodoo… Hrah!”

Where’s my side of FUN!?


Ungowah, ungowah, this is black power
White boy-- destroy
I said, I meant it I really represent it.
I’m a cool, cool nigger from a cool, cool town
It takes another cool nigger to knock me down
I said “soul sister number nine,
sock it to me one more time.”
UH! Good god.

Just a handclapping game chant from the South Bronx.

Teacher, my red crayon tastes funny – Ralph Wiggum

Jamie Lee Curtis has always had great tits. Not just in that scene, nor even just in that movie. Ummmmm…<looking around quickly> not that I’VE ever noticed, but that’s what I’ve heard. Whew! Guess I covered up on that one okay. DOH! Is this thing still on?

What do you want for Christmas, Crow? I want to decide who lives and who dies!

I know it from the Tarzan context, too. Showed up a lot in the old Tarzan comic books.

I found this article on the britannica site. It’s an obituary of Maureen O’Sullivan. In the second paragraph, it says:

Well, I’d never have heard of that. I have never watched Saturday Night Live, and I detest Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd intensely.

Ooh, ungowah, yo mama needs a show-ah

“We are here for this – to make mistakes and to correct ourselves, to withstand the blows and to hand them out.” Primo Levi


I have the Tarzan books (by Edgar Rice Burroughs) at home, and scanned through them last night.

Not a sign of “Ungawah” or any variation thereof. Oh, there was a lot of ape-talk, but that particular word doesn’t seem to come up.

Other possibilities:

  1. It is an invention of script writers.

  2. It is a real African (Swahili perhaps?) word, coopted by script writers. Any Swahili speakers out there?