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The meaning of Mahala

Though formerly seen as a slang term, this word is widely used in South Africa to indicate something is free. The derivation is uncertain, though the spelling suggests it may have originated from one of the locally used African languages. (There is no obvious link with the Balkan word mahala, meaning meaning a neighbourhood, quarter or a section of a rural or urban settlement).

Whatever the origins, the word Mahala has occurred in the names of many journals, plays, novels and films over the years.

A related word, pasella, also meaning a free gift, or simply free, comes from the Nguni languages, and is equally well known and ubiquitous in the arts and literature.


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Mahala: The South African music, culture and reality magazine

This is an open access, online South African music, culture and reality magazine which reports on South African culture. Its aims are to be the "home to challenging and incisive political and social commentary and strong, fearless opinions" and to "promote freedom of thought and expression". It has the following sub-sections: Art; Culture; Kif/Kak; leisure; News; Music; Reality; Sport; Social.

The website address is:


Phone: +27 (0)82 334 1430

Postal address: Mahala, PO Box 48468, Kommetjie, 7976, Cape Town, South Africa


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Other relevant occurrences of Mahala

Nothing for Mahala (2013 - South African film)

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