It came to be applied to all white people in East Africa, as most were encountered as traders, visiting colonial officials or tourists.
Today, white tourists are often greeted (especially by children) with the cry: "Bye bye mzungu!"
For some reason, they rarely say "Hello mzungu!" when they see one coming...
Indignant white person: "Listen, it's 'hello mzungu!' - and anyway, I've lived here for 25 years, you cheeky devil."
Child: (pause) "Bye bye mzungu!"
Ugandan Stall-holder: "A bowl of passion fruit? Um... that'll be 3,000 shillings please."
Indignant white person: "Come again? I'm not paying mzungu prices, I've lived here 25 years!" etc. etc.
It can also mean some sort of ‘boss’, whether you are male or female, black, brown or white!
Originally stems from the phrase, “those who wonder aimlessly”, and linked to African experiences of early explorers, traders and missionaries.
In itself mzungu is not a derogatory or negative term. Although it can appear aggressive or negative if accompanied with requests for money.
The mzungu is coming soon, he can pay.
Bye bye mzungu!
The word is commonly used by locals and not in a negative way (ie: it is viewed as complimentary to be Mzungu).