The sports category has moved to a new website.

Alaa! and 4 other trademarked Kenyan catchphrases

Here is a list of Kenyan phrases that you will be required to pay a fee or ask for permission before using

Francis Atwoli

Words are powerful, and in today's world, they can even become a brand. Kenyans have a unique way of turning catchy phrases into trademarked expressions, and these slang words have now become an essential part of pop culture.

From the sarcastic 'Alaa!' to the Godly 'twa twa,' these phrases have made their way into the mainstream, with some even generating a considerable amount of money for their owners.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the trademarked Kenyan phrases and their stories.


In 2021, Francis Atwoli, the Secretary-General of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU), rose to fame when he used the word ‘Alaa!’ sarcastically in an interview to express disbelief.

The clip went viral, with DJs and content creators using it to spread joy and laughter. Atwoli saw an opportunity to make money out of his catchphrase and decided to trademark it.

The trademark deal ensures that Atwoli owns the expression until 2031, giving him the exclusive right to monetize it.


Pastor Sue Munene coined the phrase ‘Twa! Twa!’ during a church service in 2019. The coded words went viral, with Kenyans finding it funny and sharing it widely. Some artists even used the phrase in their songs.

However, unlike other Kenyans who have trademarked viral phrases for financial gain, Pastor Sue made it clear that she wants to use it for godly purposes only.

She has allowed anyone to use the words but asked that they use them responsibly.


KRG the Don, a Kenyan dancehall artist, recently trademarked the expression 'Mambo Imechemuka,' which translates to 'things are boiling.'

The trademark is valid for ten years, provided no one opposes it within 60 days from the date of publication.

The trademark office also stated that KRG can only own the phrase when the two words are used together concurrently.


In 2022, Stevo Simple Boy trademarked ‘Freshi Barida,’ a viral phrase that originated from an interview where he was discussing Kenya's upcoming general elections. The phrase later became the title of his hit song.

Simple Boy's management announced that the rapper legally owns the exclusive rights to the phrase after trademarking it.

Anyone who tries to use the slogan for commercial purposes without permission will face legal action.


The phrase 'Hakuna Matata' became famous globally after Disney's blockbuster hit ‘The Lion King’ in 1994.

However, the phrase existed long before that and was even a lyric in the 1982 Swahili song 'Mambo Bwana' by the Kenyan group, Them Mushrooms.

Disney was granted a US trademark over the phrase, ensuring that no other organization or company can use it for merchandise without prior approval from Disney.

These trademarked Kenyan phrases prove that words have the power to transcend language, culture, and time. The expressions remind us that words are a valuable asset and should not be taken lightly.


So, the next time you come up with a catchy phrase, remember that it could be the next big thing!


Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: