Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Etymology And A Bad Joke

FLG was reading Le Monde when he came across this article asking about the origin of the term bunga bunga, which for those of you who don't know Silvio Berlusconi apparently held bunga bunga parties. Anyway, the Le Monde article links to a BBC article, which saves FLG translation trouble, and points to an old joke that is the first thing that FLG thought of when he heard Berlusconi was doing this crazy shit.

Here's pretty much how FLG remembers it:
Three guys got stranded on an island. Two of the three were wimps and the other was a tough, strong guy. One day, they met a tribe. The tribe chief told them that they could either have Death or Bunga-bunga.

He asked the first wimp: Death or Bunga-bunga? The wimp replied: Well, I want to live so I guess Bunga-bunga. He got ass raped.

The Chief asked the second wimp: Death or Bunga-bunga? He replied: I don't want to die, so Bunga-bunga. He got ass raped.

Then the Chief asked the tough guy: Death or Bunga-bunga? He replied: I don't want to get ass raped so I'll take Death! Everyone in the tribe then chants: Oooooooo! He choose Death! Death! Death by Bunga-bunga!!!

But the BBC found an earlier reference:
The phrase itself is not new. One of the oldest recorded references dates back to 1910 and another African-themed joke.

The infamous Dreadnought hoax was dreamed up by aristocratic joker Horace de Vere Cole, who contacted the British Admiralty pretending to be the Emperor of Abyssinia. He informed officials that he wished to inspect the Home Fleet while on a forthcoming visit to Britain.

After enlisting some friends - artists from the Bloomsbury group, including writer Virginia Woolf - to masquerade as his entourage, he turned up at the navy's state-of-the-art ship, the Dreadnought.

Officials, taken in by the dark stage make-up, false beards and oriental regalia, treated the group to an official civic reception.

[You can see a picture of them if you click the link.]

They were reported to have cried "Bunga, bunga!" while marvelling at the ship. An account of the visit plus a picture were sent to the Daily Mail newspaper - probably by Cole himself.


Withywindle said...

I heard it as "death by womba!"

Withywindle said...

Oh, yes -- the Skidelsky bio of Keynes mentions the incident. One of the jokesters was Duncan Grant, Keynes' long-time boyfriend.

The Maximum Leader said...

I've heard (and told this one) using "Roo-Roo" rather than "Bunga-Bunga."

I also end it with the the captured man asking for death and the chief of the natives saying "You choose death! But first... some Roo-Roo."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.