A Bulungi is a fictional little country nestled somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. If used as a setting, almost always a thick jungle or parched savannah, even though the southern region is more temperate.
Bulungis are often populated by a mix of white and black residents, the former of whom usually feature vaguely British accents. The country's name is usually composed of simple syllables
that are stereotypically "African"-sounding.
In many cases, the Bulungi is in the midst of the transition process from its former sort of government
to a more democratic type of rule, though this might not be going well for them
. If there is a dictator, expect him to be a well educated man who Majored in Western Hypocrisy
. Depending upon how it is handled, a Bulungi can easily lend itself to Unfortunate Implications
Compare and contrast with Ruritania
, Banana Republic
, and Darkest Africa
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Cyborg 009, Pyunma (or Puma), also known as 008, comes from the Republic of Muanba. There is a short story arc where the cyborg team travels there in the midst of a revolution. Muanba's economy is in ruins due to this conflict, as it had soon grown into an arms race manipulated by Black Ghost, a weapons company that sells each side ever more effective weapons.
- Storm's uncle was the dictator of such a country. Wakanda, the home of the Black Panther, however, isn't such a country, but is instead a Hidden Elf Village that does everything in its power to prevent being controlled by outside forces or forsake their native culture (made easier by the fact that they are the world's only natural source of Type I vibranium, which gives them enough political clout to keep themselves relatively free of unwelcome outside influence).
- A country called Equatorial Kalingaland featured heavily in one issue of G.I. Joe Special Missions. The location was not narrowed down any more than that, but if it really is equatorial, it has to be either in Africa, South America or on an island. The predominance of black population and the lack of sea nearby suggest Africa.
- De Kiekeboes: The African state "Boeloe Boeloe" is featured in many albums.
- 'The Phantom'' is set in Bangalla, a nation of precisely this type. Bangalla did handle the transition to the post-Colonial age better than most, and the capital of Morristown is a modern city, but there are still deep jungles and parched savannahs a-plenty.
- The Interpreter has Matobo, a southern African country liberated by a Dr. Zuwanie who now is a corrupt dictator that kills his opponents. Matobo is an Expy of Zimbabwe (previously Rhodesia), making Dr. Zuwanie a fictional counterpart to Robert Mugabe (especially funny since he actually banned the film, decrying it as CIA propaganda). The protagonist of the movie, Silvia, is a white citizen of that country. The country seems to be somewhere near South Africa, because when the FBI is looking for Silvia they check all flights to Johannesburg. The screenwriters of the movie seemed to have gone to great lenghths to make Matobo relatively realistic - notably, they hired a professional linguist to create Matobo's fictional official language, Ku (derived from various existing southern Bantu languages and dialects).
- Coming to America has Zamunda, a general riff on Real Life Zambia, with elements of Swaziland and Lesotho thrown in (i.e. it's a rare example of a modern African monarchy).
- Zembala in The Wild Geese.
- In Casino Royale, the generic African country of Nambutu that Bond storms the embassy of in the Action Prologue. Its flag is a combo of the Djibouti and Mozambique one. The scenes were actually filmed in the Bahamas.
- Birani at the beginning of The Gods Must Be Crazy, where their Cabinet gets shot up by Sam Boga's men. It is supposedly located near Namibia and Angola and has a banana grove at a place called Dumgase.
- The 1981 French movie Le Professionnel, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, has his character going on a secret mission to Malagawi in order to assasinate its Idi Amin-esque President for Life. It definitely earns a distinction for laziness in invoking the trope by the way its filmmakers merely took the existing country of Malawi and added a "-ga-" in the middle.
- The Dolph Lundgren movie Red Scorpion takes place in the communist nation of Mombaka, in the middle of a civil war between La Résistance and the government and their Soviet, Cuban and Czechoslovakian allies. Given the country's savannah enviorment and Marxist government, it appears to be an expy of either Mozambique or Angola, which were both communist at the time.
- The Soviet spy movie TASS Is Authorized to Declare..., based on the eponymous novel by Yulian Semyonov, has Nagonia.
- La Nuit de la vérité ("Night of Truth") is an actual African drama film that deliberately features two different Bulungis, called Bonande and Nayak. The movie was a 2004 co-production of Burkina Faso and France.
- Nibia from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
- Good Omens has Kumbokoland, an African country that was briefly Sir-Humphrey-Clarksonland, and which has been at peace for three thousand years. That is until War pays a visit.
- Evelyn Waugh:
- Ishmaelia from Scoop.
- Azania from Black Mischief, often interpreted as a stand-in for inter-war Ethiopia.
- Zangaro from Frederick Forsyth's The Dogs of War. Based on Nigeria/Biafra.
- Chanda's Secrets and Chanda's Wars by Allan Stratton both are about the title Chanda in an unnamed AIDS ravaged sub-Saharan African country.
- Nmkwami in Changeover by Diana Wynne Jones. As the title suggests, the novel is set during the transition to self-rule.
- Beninia from Stand on Zanzibar. There's also Dahomalia and RUNG, but these are mergers of existing IRL countries.
- Ambagazali, the home country of Bunduki in the works of J.T. Edson.
- Zanj, Kush and Sahel in John Updike's novel The Coup.
- Andrew Norman Wilson's novel My Name Is Legion has Zinariya. It's ruled by a dictator, general Bindiga, and has globally important copper mines.
- The People's Republic of Fernando Poo, a revolutionary government established by coup d'état in the Illuminatus!! trilogy. It's name is an immature pun on the actual West African island of Fernando Pó, also known under the native name Bioko (it is a part of Equatorial Guinea).
- Nagonia from Yulian Semyonov's spy thriller TASS Is Authorized to Declare....
- The neighboring nations Lamblia and Gurunduwaju in Stanislaw Lem's short story "Professor A. Donda" from Memoirs of a Space Traveller.
- If you want a Congo-esque Planet Bulungi, go no farther then Haruun Kal, homeworld of Mace Windu and the setting of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Shatterpoint.
- Part of the Leverage tie-in novel The Zoo Job is set in the West African nation of Malani.
- Gorotoland from Allen Drury's sequels to Advise and Consent
Live Action TV
- MacGyver featured several such countries over the course of its run. The country Kembezi from one episode of this show is unusual in that at one point it was actually shown on a map (it was supposedly in the vicinity of South Africa).
- 24: Redemption, as well as the following season of the series proper, features Sangala.
- The A-Team had three: Zulabwe from "Diamonds 'n' Dust", and Northern and Southern Triana from "There Goes the Neighborhood".
- Buranda from Yes, Minister, referred to on the show as a TPLAC—"Tinpot Little African Country", a parody of development geography terminology. It appears to have replaced Equatorial Guinea on the map.
- In The West Wing, there was Equatorial Kundu, an African nation wracked by genocide. Besides that, there was also mention of a Sahelise Republic.
- In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Earl is betting on a political election between a regular guy and a cannibal in Africa that he's following on the news. The cannibal guy wins.
- The Mission: Impossible episode "Kitara" was set in the gold-producing West African nation of Bocamo. It seems to be ruled by a settler minority of German descent, who are unfortunately white supremacists and practice racial segregation of the native populace. The episode the country appers in was clearly a satire on the apartheid-promoting Cold War governments of Rhodesia and South Africa. Another episode, "The Money Machine", had Ghalea, a small country whose pro-Western government was key to stability in the area. Other examples are Logosia from "The Crane" and Lombuanda from "The Diamond".
- An episode of Spooks featured West Monrassa, led by corrupt president Gabriel Sakoa, who was guilty of ordering genocide on an ethnicity in the north of the country. Another episode had Guadec, led by a reformist president called Manu Baffrong.
- The long-running German crime investigation series Küstenwache ("Coast Guard") had an episode which featured the small African monarchy of Sotho. The name and characterization was very obviously inspired by the actual Lesotho.
- The eleventh episode of Airwolf was set in North and South Limbawe and featured the conflict between the two countries. The North Limbawe's air force used antique WWII fighter aircraft, like the Vought F4U Corsair (which would admittedly better fit in a Cold War Banana Republic setting).
- Borgen had a couple of episodes dealing with the Danish government arranging a peace deal between the warring northern and southern regions of an East African country called Kharun, which was definitely not Sudan.
- One episode of Man In A Suitcase sees McGill kidnapped by the former British governor of Ecuala, who is convinced (probably correctly) that McGill, in his CIA days, supported the independence movement that ousted him.
- Israeli comedy series Lost in Africa features a country named Abuna Kilosa, bordering on Chad and Sudan. They try their best to defy the Darkest Africa stereotype (‘This is not Burkina Faso!’).
- Bangalla, homeland of The Phantom, somewhere on the east coast of Africa. It was an English colony when the series started in the 1930s, and transitioned to self-rule in the 1960s.
- The Squee-Jee Islands, off the coast of equatorial Africa, in The Katzenjammer Kids. Although the King was rather authoritative, and insisted on wearing a traditional grass skirt, it was protrayed as a semi-modern society in the 30's through 50's.
- Bongolesia (The National African Republic of Bongolesia), created by miniature wargaming enthusiast Michael T. Murphy, is a southeastern-central African country ruled by President for Life P'hat Daddee B'wonah. Hilariously, Bongolesia is often mistaken for a real nation. It has its own tongue-firmly-in-cheek blog.
- The Kingdom of Zagoria, a former African colony of Imperial Germany. It is a partner project of the aforementioned Bongolesia.
- The Mutants & Masterminds Freedom City setting has Dakana, which the source material says is located "deep in sub-Saharan Africa, at the crossroads of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Congo". Different versions of this nation show up in the alternate universes of related to the setting. By default, it is a unique take on the trope as the leader is a super who actually cares about his people, and the nations itself is stated to be wealthy and technologically advanced thanks to the Daka crystals that they have a monopoly on. (This is a blatant Captain Ersatz of Wakanda in the Marvel universe, as described in the comics section of the page.)
- Dave Brubeck's jazz musical The Real Ambassadors features Talgalla.
- Kijuju from Resident Evil 5.
- Far Cry 2 is set in a place like this, though it includes multiple environments one might expect in Africa (jungle, desert, savannah) in a very small space.
- The early levels of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon are set in an unspecified East African country, before the action moves north.
- Southeastern Kenya in Halo is an industrialized version.
- The Moloni Republic in Metal Gear Ac!d.
- Galzburg in Metal Gear, "retconned" in Metal Gear: Ghost Babel into Gindra. Unlike most of these examples, Gindra had exhaustively well-detailed description including things like rainfall, ethnic makeup, and a certain amount of fairly realistic history, which could be accessed through calling a certain character.
- Commando Mercs is set in the Central African country of Zutula, where the President of the United States has been kidnapped by rebels.
- The first Operation Flashpoint has a mod named Tonal Island, which is focused on a civil war in a fictional African country set in a group of islands lying near the Africa eastern coast.
- Bowa-Seko from Far Cry 2. The corrupt king was ousted and now two factions, the APR and the UFLL, are locked in a civil war.
- Mazuri from Sonic Unleashed, the country where the Savannah Citadel stages take place. It has a real-world basis, however: The urban areas Sonic visits are based on the city of Djenné.
- The Trope Namer comes from The Onion, which had an article about Bulungi, a West African country whose existence was only attested to by its American ambassador. Besides Bulungi, they've also briefly shown the country of Mumbambu in one of their news videos.
- The Simpsons episode "Simpsons Safari" is set in Tanzania, and the production team did take effort to portray the country realistically, but did slip in some Bulungi-esque tropes, like the country changing regimes and official title frequently, and including customs like ear, lip and neck stretching that aren't Eastern African customs at the Masai village.
Attention, passengers. Please prepare for our landing in Tanzania. *handed paper*
I'm sorry. It is now called New Zanzibar. *handed another paper*
Excuse me. It is now called Pepsi Presents
- The Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode "Rambo and the White Rhino'' has Big Bad General Warhawk fomenting war between two fictional African nations, Namboola and Ombasi.
- George of the Jungle, straddles the line between this and Darkest Africa, being a parody of Tarzan but set in what was then the present day.
- Incidentally, "bulungi" is the common term for "good" or "all right" in Uganda.
- The World Bank actually uses this trope in its training exercises, featuring a country called "Afrinia".
- Equatorial Guinea in Tropical Gangstersby Robert Klitgaard, at least at the time the book was published.