Skip to content

Of Tafiti and African names

If I had known that what I’m doing would one day be labeled by one of the world’s biggest companies as “Tafiti”, I can assure you I would have reconsidered a foray into research.

So Microsoft has debuted a beta of Tafiti (which means “do research” in Swahili). I can’t run it yet – of course it doesn’t work on Linux – but from what I’ve read, it can be summed up as “Copy and Paste from the Web”. Couldn’t they find an African word for that? Oh, wait… they did.

I have a theory behind African naming. Quick question: What’s as rare as in the Internet in Africa, other than matter in the universe? Answer: Good domain names in normal languages, of course. In a world where even and are taken up, it’s not too hard to understand why someone rushed out and bought And of course, this is true for almost every language in the world which is spoken by Internet accessing folks. We now have no choice but to turn to Africa; our last remaining resource of domain names until someone starts giving them cheap Internet access.

This grows into a rather neat startup idea. Start up a firm and buy domain names and transferable trademarks of words in any and all African languages, even those spoken by now-extinct gorillas in the disappearing forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then start charging exorbitant fees for “brand consulting in the next century”. Your contribution will be to analyze market trends and shifting paradigms to maximize perceived identification with customers for a more human-centric branding strategy.

For example, if MSN and Yahoo join hands in search, the resulting engine could be called “Jomaiglooeghatahata”, an Angolan word for “We tried to beat Google but couldn’t”. The newest iPhone accessory range could be branded “Yootodomiyooto”, a poetic Gabonese word which elegantly translates as “We fleece you some, then we fleece you some more”. The phrase “Inev Idiv Iciv Ucho”, hailing from Burkina Faso, would serve as the perfect momentum-giving tool to Operation Iraqi Freedom, conveying unequivocally “We came, we found nothing, we keep getting hit and now we’re stuck”. And… well, you get the picture.

The business, of course, could use a professional sounding catch phrase like “Roonimoondonakagutu”, which in an ancient Namibian dialect that means “We know it sounds ridiculous, but trust us it works.”

There. I was planning to do all this myself but I decided to give it away. I feel generous today. No not lazy, generous. Go and make your billions. Drop me a penny or two after.