Mtoto wa watu is a rather complicated expression concerning its origin and intention, which could literally be translated as a boy/son/boy of men. On the one hand, it is used to point to bottom homosexual men, and on the other, it is the expression used in the Swahili version of the Bible to refer to Jesus Christ as “son of men” in the sense of the son of humanity. How do you go from Jesus Christ to a bottom homosexual man? At the moment we can only speculate in two ways, both of them having a humorous touch due to their relationship with the character of the bible.
Outside the documentation referring to homosexuality properly, we found a clue that perhaps could provide some more light on the meaning of this expression, because although the literal term for wife is Mke, we usually find the construction “mke wa mtu” when we speak, for example, of what in English would be translated as a married woman or even someone’s wife (we would not say, for example, “do not flirt with her, she is a wife” but we would say “she is a married woman”, she is the wife of, etc).
When replacing Mke by Mtoto in the phrase, we find a euphemistic pun in which the meaning of a child/son/boy of a man, makes much more sense as equivalence to someone’s wife/a man’s wife and that we could translate into the English language as “someone’s little boy” when this someone is a man, and an emotional-sexual relationship is established between them. A theory that we also saw reinforced when we found that in prison slang bottom homosexual men are named, among other things, mtoto, clearly in the sense of wives.
Another possibility to explain the idiom Mtoto wa watu, and related to the previous one, is the literalness of the phrase that could also be translated as “boy or little boy of men” with the sense of puppet of men, of several or many men.
Variation: Mtoto wa mtu.