Today we ponder "creativity." To this end I offer a quote from Robert Faris Thompson's "Flash of the Spirit":
Kongo Presence unexpectedly emerges in the Americas in many places and in many ways. Take for example, vernacular English and singing. In the South of the United States, important Ki-Kongo words and concepts influenced black English, especially the lexicons of jazz and the blues, as well as of lovemaking and herbalism. Many a Ki-Kongo derived word has been described by etymologists as "origin unknown." The word "jazz" is probably creolized Ki-Kongo. It is similar in sound and original meaning to "jizz," the American vernacular for semen. And "jizz," suggestive of vitality, appears to derive from the Ki-Kongo verb dinza, "to discharge ones semen, to come." Dinza was creolized in New Orleans and elsewhere in black United States into "jizz" and "jism."
The slang term "funky" in black communities originally referred to strong body odor, and not to "funk" meaning fear of panic. The black nuance seems to derive from the Ki-Kongo lu-fuki, "bad body odor," and is perhaps reinforced by contact with fumet, "aroma of food or wine," in French Louisiana. But Ki-Kkongo word is closer to the jazz word "funky" in form and meaning, as both jazzmen and Bakongo use "funky" and "lu-fuki" to praise persons for the integrity of their arts, for having "worked out" to achieve their aims. In Kongo today it is possible to hear an elder lauded in the way: "like there is a real funky person!--my soul advances toward him to recieve his blessing" (yati, nkwa lu-fuki Ve miela miami ikwenda baki). Fu Kiau Bunseki, a leading native authority on Kongo culture, explains: "someone who is very old, I goto sit with hiim , in order to feel his lu-fuki. meaning I would like to be blessed by him." For in Kongo the smell of a hard working elder carries luck. This Kongo sign of exertion is identified with the positive energy of a person. Hence "funk" in black American jazz parlance can mean earthiness, a return to fundamentals.
Robert Faris Thompson