Nina beLembe eleqa amanye amalembe ngokukhalipha!
Sekwaba yinsakavulela umchilo wesidwaba ukuthi abantu abampisholo ubezwe bevitiza ngesilungu noma kuhlangene amaZulu wodwa. Ngikhuluma nje kweminye imizi ulimu lukaMageba selwafana nomzondo, kuthi noma abazukulu bevakashele oninakhulu kuhambe isilungu phambili wena owabona umchamo wasekuseni, zivele ziyime emthumeni ke kwintombi endala kube sengathi icala ukuthi ayisazi isilungu. Okungimangazayo ukuthi nalaba engangifunda nabo le emakhaya kwelakithi elingafelwa nkonyane namhlanje abasakwazi ngisho nokubhala amanye amagama esiZulu ngoba bekubona kuyichilo ukuba wumZulu ophelele nozigqajayo. Kanti ukube ngangingemZulu ngangiyoba yini?
Nina bakaNogwaza Eguqile Okwethole LikaNdaba!
Nina BakaHlamvana Bhul’umlilo Endulinde!
Nina BakaLanga Lisehlule Sesingamavikithi
Nina BeNkayishana KaMenzi Eyaphuz’umlaza Ngameva
Nina BakaBhejane Phum’esiqiwini
Ake sikusukumele ukuqhakambisa ulimu lwethu ngoba uma sizithela ngabandayo amanye amagama anothisa lolulimu ayogcina eshabalele. Lolulimu salunikwa okhokho, olubalwa kubo uNodumehlezi kaMenzi owaba neqhaza nokuqamba amagama alinganiselwa ezinkulungwaneni ezilushumi nesishiyagalolunye (19000), washoda nje ngamagama alinganiswa ezinkulungwaneni ezimbili (2000) ukuze inani lawakhe lilingane nalawo aqanjwa umbhali uWilliam Shakespeare kwamahlophe abelungu.
Namhlanje ake sibheke amagama amqondo fanana, noma achaza into eyodwa. Amanye alamagama asabaluleke kakhulu kwaZulu ngenxa yokuthi ayeyindlela yokuhlonipha.
isibonelo: uma igama likababezala kamakoti kuwuManzi, wayengeke alisebenzise kodwa uma ekhuluma ngamanzi wayezothi amandambi noma amacubane.
Angingabe ngisaphlisa maseko, angihlale amagqozo kulawa engiwakhumbulayo ngezansi;
- Indlela / Inyathuko = path
- Gibela / Khwela = to hop on
- Umiyane / umndozolwane = mosquito
- Uvalo / ingebhe / itwetwe / ukungenwa amanzi emadolweni = fear
- Umangobe / ikati = cat
- Inja / Ingcanga = dog
- Inkukhu / impandane / isiphandamazala = chicken
- Unyoko / umama waloyo okukhuluma naye / mother of the person you are talking to
- Unina / umama wakhe = his/her mother
- Impakama / ilanga / intshida = sun
- Ukukhophoza / ukubheka phansi ngokushaywa amahloni = to stir on the ground shyly
- Amabhodwe / izimbiza / amakhanzi = pots
- Umhluzi / isobho = gravy / soup
- Ingonyuluka / iqiniso elimsulwa = honest truth
- Isihluthulelo / isikhiye = key / lock
- Iseqamgwaqo / unondindwa / umuntu wesifazane ongaziphethe kahle = a promiscuous woman
- Isipatsha / isipawupete / intombi enhle kakhulu = a beautiful young woman
- Umalokazana / umakoti = dauther-in-law
- Ingodosi (ingoduso) / umuntu wesifazane oselotsholwe / wife-to-be / fiancée
- Indle / itshe lentaba = a polite word for “shit”
- Umbungu = featus
- Inani / intengo = price
- Ikhala / impumulo = nose
- Amehlo / amaqaphelo = eyes
- Imali / inkece / uphacane = money
- Amafutha / amathambiso / amagcobo = oil
- Amaqanda / amachoboka = eggs
- Umfana / umkhapheyana = boy
- Utshwala / amanzi amponjwana = alcohol
- igwala / ivaka = coward
- Umthondo / ipipi / iphobane = penis
- Ukuzigqaja / ukuziqhenya = to be proud
- Ugqozi / ufuqufuku / ilukuluku / umqhanagu = enthusiasm / oomph / having great energy
- Ikhehla / ixhegu = a very old man
- Iziqabeko = sanitary pads
- Indoda / injeza = man
- Inkinga / ingwadla = problem
- Indlu / inkathelo = house
- Phuza / natha = drink
- Isinkwa / isiphoco = bread
- Ukweshela / ukuqomisa / ukukhuzela (shouting of love vocatives) = to woo a girl/woman
- inyama / incoso = meat
Ngiyethemba nawe unawo awakho ongasicobelela ngawo kumaComments;
Nime njalo! Nina Besilo!
It was the new dawn as the day opened in its truest form in KwaBulawayo, King Shaka’s Great Umuzi. The roosters uttered their last raucous crow, jumping from the trees to get on with the business of the day, whatever that might be. Attempting to set the sky on fire, the sun was scorching hot that morning, seeming to say, “I told you I would rise again.” Birds were chirping, but the Zulu maidens were not to be outdone. They sang beautifully that very morning, on their way to fetch water from the river. Mbuzikazi led the singing, as expected, for her voice was silky and clear, as though she had umtshingo (flute) between her teeth.
Standing adjacent to the cattle kraal with Mbopha, Shaka remarked, “Lihle izwe lobabamkhulu, Mbopha kaSithayi!” (Oh! how stunning is the land of our ancestors, Mbopha ̶ son of Sithayi.)
(Mbompha was Shaka’s Chief Advisor.)
“Bayede! Are you talking about the cattle, valleys, the mountains, and the rivers?” Mbopha enquired, rather curiously.
“Cha Mbopha, ngisho lendoni yamanzi kaCele, mfoka KaSithayi” (No, I’m only talking about Cele’s entrancing daughter … she is as beautifully dark-skinned as the water berries.)
Mbuzikazi was stunningly beautiful; the kind of beauty that would have easily launched her modelling career had times been different. Her skin was flawless. Her matchless smile was as wide as dreams. Her lustrous lips were beautifully shaped, as though about to break into a song. Her teeth were milk white as the snow on the Drakensberg and equally alluring. Mbuzikazi had a stomach as flat as a soccer field, a ‘killer’ body that young men could only look at and admire, for marriage and sexual engagement were privileges reserved for much older men. On the whole, Mbuzikazi was captivating beyond any style or combination of beadwork.
The day went by, and, as the Zulu saying goes, “Ayilali ikhonjiwe” (No beast shall see the sun rise, once destined for slaughter.”) Little did Mbopha know that the King was to pursue Mbuzikazi that very evening.
“Abayilethe impi abafokazane sibahlasele,” (Let the commoners bring war to us so we can finish them off) said Shaka.
“Bayede, besaba wena Lembe eleqa amanye amalembe ngokukhalipha,” (They are afraid of you, Great One) Mbopha replied.
Shaka continued, “Uma kunjalo ke MfokaSithayi kuzomele sichithe isizungu ngokweq’iziko.” (In that case, we shall find something to pass the time…like indulging in sexual pleasures.)
He had barely uttered those words when Mbopha smiled, as if to say, ‘I didn’t know you were into such delicacies, Your Highness!’
“What could possibly stop Your Highness when you have such beautiful ‘flowers’ waiting to pleasure your desires?” enquired Mbopha.
This time Shaka had his eyes fixed upon Mbuzikazi, who was playing umagenda – a stone-throwing game ̶ with other Buthelezi maidens outside his Great Hut.
“Buka isinqe sakhe ngathi amabedlane izintaba zasoNdini, mfokaSithayi” (Take a look at her buttocks, son of Sithayi; they are as beautifully shaped as the Mabedlane twin-mountains of Ulundi.”)
Lost for words, Mbopha did not bother to nod, for it had never occurred to him that there were similarities between buttocks and mountains.
“If she ends up being married, it would be a great pity to cover such beauty,” joked Shaka. They giggled as they indulged in a pot of umqombothi (sorghum beer) and barbequed liver.
Mbopha saw where this was going and decided to take a ‘pee-break’ in order to tip off Mbuzikazi that the King wished to discuss something with her by sunset.
“Be sure to look like the shiny water-berries that you are,” said Mbopha to Mbuzikazi.
“Who am I for him to know my name, let alone call for me? I’m petrified ̶ absolutely petrified to be summoned by Ndabezitha, the Great One,” Mbuzikazi cried, in a state of panic which Mbopha would not indulge.
Nonetheless, the hapless maiden bathed rather hurriedly, rubbing animal fat on her body. Gleaming brightly as the water berries, and glowing like a flower in spring, Mbuzikazi walked to the Great Hut, swaying from side to side, seemingly putting on a show for the King, however, this was no show. Mbuzikazi knelt down and crawled, chanting Ndabezitha! Ndabezitha! (Your Highness! Your Highness!) as she approached the Great Hut.
Shaka’s face lit up when he saw the radiant Mbuzikazi. His right hand stretched out in welcome as he extolled her virtues that evening. Compliments flowed from him like mountain streams… after all, he was credited with composing over 19000 Zulu words, augmenting the Zulu vocabulary without a single borrowing. The King was charming; he was different; and this terrified the trembling maiden.
Why was he being so nice? Thoughts lingered in her mind. Finding no trace of anger in his face when their eyes accidentally met, she smiled, perhaps out politeness, or perhaps worse, out of fear.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” came the peremptory enquiry.
“No, Your Highness!”
Needless to say, this was the answer the King was expecting, for Mbuzikazi, along with the other Buthelezi maidens, were under the careful eye of Nandi, and all maidens would go through regular virginity testing.
King Shaka told Mbuzikazi that she was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, besides his mother, Nandi, of course. This time he was holding the young girl close, caressing and kissing her. Out of fear she totally surrendered herself. One thing led to another ̶ Mbuzikazi found herself falling for her King, as he for her. A very awkward moment for both of them, I might add. Days went by, with Mbuzikazi finding herself sneaking in to the Great Hut time and time again. There was no doubt that she was in love, however, there remained guilt and the fear of not knowing what might come next!
It took only three months for Mbuzikazi to feel something moving inside her belly. Terrified by this development she confided in one of the maidens.
“Ngizwa sengathi ngizithwele.” (I think I’m pregnant.)
‘’Hayibo, by whom? Beyede the warrior King himself? I knew you were sneaking in and out to him but I did not suspect that it had gone this far,” said Nomagugu.
Awe mah! Are you carrying the restless one’s child? If he fights like that, imagine how he does ‘other things’?” joked Nomalizwe. Louder and louder they laughed, except for Mbuzikazi. This was terrifying, more than anything. Little did they know that Mbopha’s wife was eavesdropping, and had overheard the entire conversation.
Afraid of being direct, Mbopha’s wife went to the hut, pulled out her Umakhweyana bow, and started playing and singing the same song repeatedly.
“Ingane inyakaza esinyeni, ingane.” (The child moves in its mother’s belly.)
“Ingane inyakaza esinyeni, ingane.” (The child moves in its mother’s belly.)
Mbopha, anxious and puzzled by her persistence in singing this song, was becoming curious, for he knew her child-bearing age had long passed.
“It’s rather who made whom pregnant that I find fascinating, my husband,”
Mbopha’s eyes grew ever wider.
“Mbuzikazi, the daughter of Cele, is carrying the child of whom-I’m-afraid-to-even-say-his-name. I heard the girls talking.”
Knowing what the King might do to him had he found out that he also knew, Mbopha kaSithayi wasted no time. He went straight to Shaka to give him the news, in an effort to prove his loyalty.
Racing up and down the Great Hut, Shaka’s face became as dark as the rafters of the beer-brewing hut. He was sweating. His heart hardened, and certainly he was overcome with anger.
“Mbopha, you know what I do to liars? Is this rumour true, son of Sithayi?”
“Have I ever been false to you, Great One? I bring you news. Yingakho bengibiza umazulazayithole.” (That is why they call me the wanderer who only rests upon getting to the bottom of things.) The King’s childhood, as an heir of Senzangakhona had been bitter ̶ there was no way that the King wanted an heir. The King was angry. He wanted no similar life for his heir-in-waiting.
“Mbopha, son of Sithayi, I don’t give life – I take lives: that is my duty, which is my mission on this earth. The girl must die. Bring her here tomorrow morning. Mbopha kaSithayi.’’
Mkabayi KaJama (Shaka’s aunt) heard about this development in the Kingdom and tipped off Nandi to help the pregnant Mbuzikazi escape.
Nandi had always wanted a grandchild, and she was excited upon hearing the news. Before Shaka could carry out his plan, Nandi was one step ahead. She single-handedly masterminded Mbuzikazi’s escape to live with Nomcoba ̶ Shaka’s sister, who was now presiding over Nandi’s old Emkhindini Homestead. A wet-nurse, Nomagwebu, was chosen to look after the child.
When Shaka found out about the escape he was livid; he could not even look his mother in the face. He felt betrayed by his own blood. Eventually, he let his mother decide what to do with the child once born, but there was one condition…he never wanted to see either the child or its mother ever again. A baby boy was born at Emkhindini Kraal who brought much joy to Nandi. The news was spreading like wildfire, so much so that Nandi decided to move both Mbuzikazi, Nomagwebu, and little Shaka to safety; this time to Thembuland, or what is today known as Swaziland. She feared that Shaka’s brother, Dingane, would kill the child, or worse, Shaka himself.
To this day it remains a mystery as to what happened to Mbuzikazi and little Shaka.
By: Soka Mthembu
Photo Credit: Shaka Zulu, the movie
NB: Fiction blended with non-fiction, and a bit of fun:-)
Sanibonani, Molweni, Hello, Xin Chao!
Greeetings from Vietnam, this time:-)
Over the past few months I have been traveling in and outside Zululand doing storytelling and just admiring the beauty that is the Zulu Kingdom and its people. But what really got in the way of my blogging is my recent trips, with Zulu dancers, to Morocco in October, Vietnam in December 2015 and again Vietnam in February 2016. It has been a roller-coaster of excitement and I can’t wait to share the stories that I’m currently work on.
On before I forget, we are releasing a full-length music album (Beyond Zulu: Mkabayi kaJama) honoring the heroes and heroines such as Mkabayi kaJama. There are of course many other great songs such as Baba Nomama — a traditional Zulu wedding song (inkondlo) sung by a Zulu bride just before she says “I do” in a true Zulu tradition!
In the meantime enjoy the images from my recent trips in Zululand and outside of South Africa! For more images and videos; visit my company website Beyond Zulu Experience Check out Beyond Zulu YouTube channel
When a true Zulu warrior bumps into a beautiful woman, something in him awakens – he flourishes his best smile for her, becomes totally weak in the knees – though not too weak to tell her how he feels. His heart beats wildly, furiously. And following the physical effects of the encounter, comes explosive poetry:
Zala Abantu Ziyebantwini
[“They (girls) reject men, only to choose other men (not animals) … and because I’m a man you might as well save yourself some trouble and choose me”]
Nkosazane Emhlophe Efana Nezihlabathi Zolwandle
[Beautiful you are, as white and pure as the sands of the sea]
Mhlophe lo’dlilanga Wana Sikucoshe
[As bright as though you eat the sun itself … how I wish you’d fall right now so that I may pick you up]
Nkosazana Nami Kangizenzi;
Ngenziwa Luthando Olusha’mangqanqu Kuhle Komlilo Wothathe,
Ngithathwa Umsinga Wothando
Vuma Ngikwazise Ngomzwangedwa,
Ongidla Izibilini Imihla Namalanga
Ngivulele (Enhliziyweni) Ngingene
Ngifisa Ukuba Impukane, ‘ze Ungiphunge,
Sengibunamathe Obakho Ubuso Ngothando.
Ngifisa Ukuba Umoya, ‘ze Ngingene Ezibilini Zakho,
Ungiphefumule Ngize Ngiguqule Inhliziyo Yakho Emnene.
As in any culture, the language evolves, as do the people of that language. This is evidenced by the emergence of new Zulu pick-up lines evolved from those heard over the years:
1. Thambo lami lekhentakhi
2. Sthuthuthu sami sokujika emadilayini
3. Swidi lami lomkhuhlane
4. Umuhle ngathi ugeza ngobisi
5. Ngiyazi awuyena umakhi kodwa ngicela uzokwakha umuzi kababa
And of course my friend Erick had to coin his own courtship line, which cracks me up each time he puts it to use: “Awu kodwa ngangingafi ngani ngempi kaBhambatha?” or “Oh, how I wish I had died during the Bambatha rebellion” (because then I wouldn’t be tortured by your amazing beauty, as I am now). Mind you, that rebellion took place in 1906, 70 years before he was born.
What this creativity demonstrates, I think, is the ability of our people, whether framed as fierce warriors, or violent taxi drivers, notwithstanding, to be romantic lovers.
However, in the midst of such creativity there always has to be a “Ungom’uyayona” or “party pooper” and my cousin fitted that profile perfectly. His courtship lines were not only appalling; they worked so little magic that he would resort to insults when rejected. I remember once when he was trying his luck with a particular young lady, that, upon realizing that she was not interested, he had no option but to let her go, only to shout at her before she was even 50 metres away, exclaiming: “Hey, angiyigqokile i-anda” – or “Hey, by the way I’m not wearing underwear.” As if this would make her suddenly change her mind. I suppose he was trying to pull a Senzangakhona stunt, who, when Nandi played hard-to-get suggested that they partake in “amahlaya endlela” or fun on the roads, otherwise known as ukusome or sex without penetration.
I also knew an old man who was, as they say,” so into” a woman of a similar age as he. Now my assumption is that, not only did she take his breath away, but she made him speechless. What he did was remarkable! Somehow, the old man laid hands on her “skhaftini” or lunch box one day – opening it to tuck a R50 note inside. When the favoured lady opened her lunch box, voila, a surprise was waiting for her. What I could not comprehend was how a R50 note, accompanied by no letter expressing interest by someone named, would help him get “the girl.”
Maidens had their own creative ways of expressing their love acceptance or disapproval. They would even communicate in a more profound manner simply to prove they were just as capable of creativity!
During the courtship at the river, or any place for that matter, a man would often try all sorts of tricks to behave as though the girl had accepted his love proposal, and to prove this to his friends and the girl’s guardian, known as Iqhikiza. The would-be lover had to produce a proof, in the form of her beaded necklace, bracelet, or any wearable item that she possessed, for that matter. This would be the item she had supposedly proffered to him. If she wouldn’t voluntarily give it to him, the thwarted lover might simply wrest it off the hard-to-get maiden.
In instances where she had accepted his love, she would often still make him sweat a bit and confuse him as to where she had placed the “parcel” or beadwork for him to collect. The lines given below, uttered by maidens, became very common:
1. “Gibela esihlahleni uyothi mawufika egatsheni eliphezulu kunawo wonke impahla uyoyithola khona lapho.”
Climb a tree, and upon reaching the furthest branch, “the parcel” will be there waiting for you.
Of course she didn’t meant this literally … if the lover was not sufficiently alert, he would continue wooing his “girlfriend” without realizing that she had accepted him.
Because courtship happened at the river, this often meant that the beads were hidden in the water container the girl was carrying. To lay hands on the treasure, one had to snatch the water container from the maiden’s head. Alternatively, the beads could be hidden in the bundle of fire-wood the girl was carrying, amongst other tantalizing ploys.
2. Impahla oyifunayo ingale kwentaba
“This parcel (beads) you are looking for is on the other side of the mountain.”
Again, this statement was not to be taken literally.
It meant that the beads the lover was searching for are in a place so far away that it might take you a while to locate them – this often meant that the beads were around her waist; mountains could be figuratively referring to her buttocks or you know where:-)
There was also a Zulu love letter, often written by a maiden to her boyfriend. She would fashion him a necklace selecting the colours expressed the message of her choice. Below are some of the common colours used in Zulu love letters, together with their meanings:
White: My love for you is as pure and true as my heart.
Red: I’m bursting with love for you.
Blue: If I were a dove I’d fly the endless skies just to see you.
Black: My heart has turned as black as the rafters in the hut, as I hear you have another maiden.
Green: I am yearning for you day and night. Come back soon, if not, you will find me as thin as the grass that is blown away by the winds.
There was also provision for those who only wished to appreciate the sight of a beautiful a maiden. Their line was/is “Ngishikilele Ntombazane” or “Swing your hips, baby!”
Because she was so proud of her body, she would usually not mind showing it off.
Photo: Val Adamson (for Zulu Fire Cultural Village)
Some Courtship lines taken from: M.A.J Blose 1960 Zulu drama; Uqomisa Mina Nje Uqomisa Iliba
In a world obsessed with classifying and assigning people to definitive groupings, sometimes we must wonder whether those described as ordinary are really ordinary after all. What is it that is ordinary about them?
Allow me to tell you about Velemu Khanyile.
Khanyile was a jockey in Zululand, a great orator, and a legend in his own right ̶ a man with a great deal of passion for horses, and an unquenchable love for women with sizable posteriors. He would often say, “Yabona lowaya uhudula icaravan,” or “You see that woman hauls a caravan.”
At a time when discussing sexual encounters was considered taboo, Velemu Khanyile broke barriers, easily earning himself the title of sex expert. He was a self-acclaimed teacher of the matters of the heart, giving unsolicited advice at every opportunity which presented itself.
My first encounter with Khanyile came when I was between 11 and 12 years old. I was a Zulu dancer at a Zulu cultural village, a task I would fulfil daily after school. Khanyile was a horse groom, transporting tourists from their meeting point to the lodge by horseback as part of the guests’ experience. Our paths would cross again years later, when I was my 20s; at this stage I was old enough to hold any conversation with him, or with anyone at all, for that matter.
Khanyile must then have been about 50. For his age, he was as healthy as a stallion. Just like me, he was robbed of the gift of height, however, as the Zulu saying goes: Ingwe idla ngamabala, or “A leopard eats by means of its spots”. Indeed, Khanyile had other spots that people, both men and women, would marvel at.
Khanyile was passionate about grooming and training horses. His beasts, or those he looked after, were beautiful, with names just as fascinating: Vanessa, November, Gems, amongst others. For a man who had never set a foot in a school, these names were interesting. When Khanyile rode to horse, he was some kind of a comic King; women ululated both when he arrived and departed from Zulu beer-drinking venues, Zulu weddings, etc. Khanyile was both dramatic and elegant. The conversations that would take place once he had left, would go something like this: “Umbonile uKhanyile etelebhela ngehhashi lakhe?” Did you see Khanyile showing-off with his horse?” Then you knew that having a herd of cattle was not enough to draw attention from the maidens. A beautiful horse, with the ability to dance and trot, was the equivalent of a Porsche.
Women found Khanyile captivating. It was as though they reeled in disbelief that such a charmer and sweet man could ever exist. This often made me wonder whether they were angry at themselves for not having met him earlier. Youngsters looked up to him. With a horse like his, and exhibiting a personality larger than life, a man could get any girl he desired.
Men his age envied him. They were jealous, just as they are jealous of a certain man from Nkandla whose home upgrades cost South Africans R246 million. Ironically, Khanyile was also from eNkandla. It was there that he excelled at every horse-race, winning prizes such as goats, cattle, and cash. Given the right opportunity, Khanyile could easily have become a world-class jockey.
As brilliant as his horses were, Khanyile was never to be outdone by them. He had a way with words, being a charmer of note, and a great raconteur. He was a marvel to listen to; a storyteller who made his characters just as colourful and alive as he.
On one delightful afternoon, just after we had all finished our daily duties, Khanyile was to share with us a riveting narrative on the culture of ukungena umfazi, or taking over a wife of someone who had deceased; a role often assumed by one of the brothers of the deceased.
Summarized background to ukungena practice:
This was a practice whereby one of the brothers of the deceased would continue his brother’s legacy by taking over his wife in the full sense, a deal usually struck by elders. The widow had very little influence or say over this decision; she was always overruled. This custom of ukungena would be undertaken so that children would have a father figure and so that the widow would not feel lonely for long, perhaps then deciding to abandon the family. Once a union had been made with her brother-in-law (now her husband), she would continue bearing children; who would be taken as belonging to the deceased.
There would also be instances in which the bride was too young, had either no children, or a husband’s brother to “ngena” her. In that case, she could remarry outside the family. However, in-laws still had to approve of the match, and the lobolo cattle would be paid to the woman’s in-laws this time, for cattle had already been paid to her family. This practice is still very much alive in most parts of the Zulu Kingdom, however, it is a dying practice, concomitantly with a vast amount of transformation that has taken place in the lives of the Zulu people.
So Khanyile became our “go to” man when it came to the matters of the heart, especially the “taboo” side of Zulu culture. Khanyile was brave in sharing these stories with us, recounting them in a humorous and dramatic way, turning our understanding and preconceived ideas about women upside down.
Khanyile kept us captivated.
From him we learned how the lives of the Zulus had been transformed ̶ the traditional practices still relevant, and what no longer obtained; it turned out that the culture of ukungena umfazi was his favourite subject.
The lecture went something like this:
“You see boys, when a beautiful woman loses her husband and she happens to be young and attractive, the first thing you do is to show her that you care in the deepest possible way, that you are a generous man. And if at all possible, be present at her husband`s funeral. But whatever you do, do not go empty-handed. I repeat, do not go empty-handed.
“You must take with you some notes: money ̶ a couple of R20s, R50s, or R100 notes. Be sure that she sees you while handing over umnikelo, the donation …”usuyothenga amakhandlela”. “Here’s a little change for you to buy some candles during this dark period,” Khanyile would suggest.
“Because it is money in notes, this is a modest way of saying to your intended, “Take this substantial` sum of money and buy a few things for yourself.” Calling the donation a few cents and candle-money will give the widow the impression that there is more money where that came from.” The narrative would continue:
“When the time is right, you must strike — persuading the woman the best way you know how…because widows also need some love, and there’s no way she could reject love forever.”
We were to witness Khanyile in action twice, with two women who had just lost their husbands. As painful as their ordeal was, I guess at some point that they longed to be treated as normal human beings, because that is what they were.
Now, like every player, Khanyile had his rival. Somehow, the two men often found themselves desiring the same woman. Masothosotho was no great catch, however, he had the gift of music, one so many of us could only dream of. Masothosotho sang Maskandi traditional Zulu music, using a 12-string guitar.
I remember the day that three ladies were hired to re-thatch the lodge. Khanyile, being his usual self, wasted no time in making his intentions known ̶ he selected one of the women for his special treatment. Sadly, she was a widow, a coincidence, I might add. Masotho, on the other side, was also flirting outrageously. Somehow, neither of the men knew which woman the other was aiming to approach. In a generous display of hospitality, for which we Zulu people are known, Masotho bought the ladies a litre of Coke. Well! Khanyile discovered this in a matter of seconds. Before the fortunate ones could open their bottle, our hero shot like a bullet into the refreshment area, proclaiming “Ayilungile le drink!” or “This cold drink is not right for you.” Khanyile was referring to the myth that women should not ever imbibe this brand of cold drink.
Khanyile took the bottle back to the shop to exchange it for Sprite, buying a second litre of the favoured brand. Perhaps this was to show the women that he could also afford to spoil them, and that he was the more knowledgeable one when it came to women’s issues — what they should or should not drink.
When these ladies started singing for their evening prayers, Khanyile was in their midst, wearing a doctor’s white coat, despite that, prior to this, he had not adopted the Christian faith.
No rival stood in Khanyile’s way. He was capable of all sort of devious deeds to bad-mouth his rivals. I remember him saying, “Ungamuqomi lo, kade ngibhava naye, itolozi yakhe inezilonda”, or, “Don’t fall for him ̶ I showered with him earlier, and noticed that his penis has sores”. Of course, this was a gross exaggeration, designed to gain his own ends.
I was often intrigued by the way in which Khanyile made it sound simple to make a woman happy ̶ perhaps because it is. I often wondered how he managed to pull these stunts, approaching women of different generations, status, and backgrounds, always using the same approach — perhaps because the more we seek differences in one another, the more commonality we find.
What puzzled me even more was the seemingly easy way Khanyile got away with what I would call “crossing the line, preying on widows, and patronizing them”. Yet I doubt that they shared my sentiments. Women adored Khanyile, perhaps because he treated them as extraordinary, and made them feel wanted, regardless of their circumstances.
Photo Credit: Val Adamson (for Simunye Zulu Lodge)
Until the lion learns how to write the narrative will always glorify the hunter – African Proverb
When I think of proverbs and idioms, and how they serve as a mirror to the events of yesteryear there’s terrible event which comes to mind—the Bambatha rebellion, known to the Zulus as “impi kaBhambatha or impi yamakhanda.”
Background: The story of Bhambatha and his rebellion began in 1905 when colonial rulers in Natal decided to impose a poll tax of £1 on all adult men in order to boost coffers emptied by the recently-ended Anglo-Boer War. In reality, the tax was meant to keep poor black labourers in white-owned farms and mines, because they needed the work to pay the tax. This tax led to a great deal of opposition by black people, and Inkosi Bambatha kaMancinza was the biggest challenger of such tax. Bambatha along with many Zulus couldn’t comprehend why they suddenly had to pay tax. Subsequently, a new proverb was born.
1. Insumansumane imali yamakhanda. (It (this matter) is incomprehensible like the poll-tax.
With that lets move on to some more Zulu proverbs…
2. Kayihlabi Ngakumisa – It (bull) does not fight according to the shape of its horns.
A bull that looks like a champion fighter may be defeated by an unimpressive looking one.
3. Usenga nezimithiyo – He milks even those in calf.
He is a liar.
4. Elisina muva liyabukwa – It (regiment) which dances last is admired.
This saying cautions one not to rush in doing something, for even later, he may do it with great success.
5. Ohlab’ eyakhe akaphikiswa.
He who slaughters his own beast is not stopped.
6. Lithath’ osemsamo limbeke emnyango. It (lightning) takes the one at the back of the hut and throws him at the door.
This saying is an expression that one needs not make fun of other people’s shortcomings as he may also find himself in the same predicament in the future.
7. Ukhasela eziko. He crawls to the fire.
When a child has reached a crawling stage he/she will inevitably crawl everywhere, even to a dangerous place like the fire-place
In short: Someone who acts in a blind and dangerous way which may bring danger upon him
8. Zawadl’ ebhekile. They (birds) ate corn in the watchman’s presence
Expression used to describe someone who is easily fooled
9. Injobo enhle ithungelwa ebandla. A good loin-skin is sewn in the company of others
Two heads are better than one, or some tasks may be accomplished more easily by two (or more) people working together than by one working alone.
10. Ulind’ amathons’ abanzi (He is waiting for the larger rain drops)
When rain begins to fall, the first few drops are generally small, but they increase in size as the rain becomes heavier. Therefore one is advised to take shelter while only the light small drops fall and not wait for larger ones.
Get out of trouble while you still can.
For further reading: Zulu Proverbs by CLS Nyembezi
For the traveller seeking community-based cultural tourism, however, not contrived, not manufactured, not illusory … a mix of nature and a true taste of Zulu heritage in an untainted and unpolluted natural environment; join me as I guide you on your journey of discovering the beauty of Zulu Culture and Heritage!
….And for who appreciate spectacular and vibrant Zulu dancing … the powerplay between Zulu warriors and maidens through song and dance!
To many, Zululand is a place whose story does not mirror their own
To us it is a place we are proud and blessed to call home,
Despite all its challenges; poverty, disease and illiteracy.
We take comfort and pride in knowing that wisdom gleaned pre-colonial times has stood the test of time,
Our fields forever fertile
Our people just as beautiful and interesting beyond the colorful masaai beadwork
We need no photography, for our images are beyond beautiful
Nor theatres for our daily lives are theatrical;
Full of Tragedies—Personal and Collective
It’s a place where a child is raised by a village,
For we are one people
Here we roam at will, and marvel at the history of our Kings,
Heroes and Heroines;
Mkhosana ka Mvundlana Biyela,
Ntshingwayo kaMahole Khoza,
The mighty Zulu regiments; Ingobamakhosi, Uve, Ukhandampevu,
and many others….
I’m yet to find a place that blesses and touches my soul like Zululand
A place whose drumbeat draws one into the pulse of Africa
Even if we have nothing
This place gives us everything!
With this, Happy 2015 and I hope you join us as we dance away https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmRG0cUaJc
The Zulu Nation is very rich when it comes to Proverbs and Idioms. Proverbs and Idioms are some of the language features that help us glean insights and wisdom about our heritage and life during pre-colonial times, they often carry deeper meanings about events of the past, serve as warnings to help us avoid (bad) history from repeating itself.
I often use Zulu proverbs to substantiate my argument or to emphasize my point, and often times I have to explain the meanings, which shouldn’t be the case when I’m speaking to a grown up Zulu whose mother tongue is IsiZulu.
In order to avoid these distinctive language features from totally diminishing, it is my plea that we use forums such as this to keep all that is our culture and heritage alive and burning!
A collection of a few Zulu proverbs and meanings;
1. Uthanda ukubukwa njengesiyephu – He likes to be looked at like a long-hairy goat
Meaning: He likes all the attention unto himself
(My assumption is that hairy goats were very rare and special at the time)
2. Ikhiwane elihle ligcwala izibungu – The nice fig is often full of worms.
Meaning / English equivalent: All that glitters is not gold
3. Enethunga ayisengeli phansi – He who has a milking-pail should not be obliged to milk on the
Meaning: He who has own resources should not have to suffer because he has lent his resources to another
4. Isitsha esihle asidleli – A nice plate is not long eaten off from.
Proverb used to lament the damage done to any nice thing or death of a dear child. A fitting phrase when referring to death of a good person could be “Gone too soon”
5. Akukho qili lazikhotha emhlane – there is no cunning person whoever licked himself on the back.
Said of someone who has tried some trickery beyond his cunning and been caught
Meaning / English equivalent: There is no paragon of excellence
6. Uphakathi komhlane nembeleko – he is between the back and the sack (that carries a child on the back)
Meaning: He/she is between the comfortable circumstances
7. Akulahlwa mbeleko ngakufelwa – The child’s sack is not thrown away after the death of one child (Because there might be another child forth-coming and sack required carrying him/her)
Meaning: Never despair in adversities
8. Kuhlonishwa kabili – Respect is two way
Meaning: if you want respect, you’ve got to give it
9. Libunjwa liseva. The day is worked while it is still fresh
Meaning / English equivalent: Make hay while the sun shines
10. Ikhotha eyikhothayo engayikhothi iyayikhahlela – The cow licks one that licks her
Meaning: People help those who return the favour
11. Iso liwela umfula ugcwele – The eye crosses the full river
Meaning: A desire goes beyond the possible
12. Iqaqa alizizwa ukunuka – no polecat ever smells its own stink.
Meaning: Nobody recognizes his own fault
13. Akukho mango ongenaliba – There is no hillside without a grave
Meaning: Death is unavoidable, and therefore will find you where ever you go
14. Isikhuni sibuya nomkhwezeli – the lit fire-brand has returned with one tending fire
Meaning: If you play with fire, you could get (your fingers) burnt / He (trouble-maker) got what deserves
15. Ukhuni luzal’umlotha – the fire-log brings about ashes
Meaning: He brings forth a worthless thing or child
16. Amaqili kathengani – The cunning men do not deal with each other
Meaning: People that know each other’s cunning practices / shrewdness avoid each other
17. Uchakide uhlolile imamba yalukile – the weasel is at ease because the mamba has gone out
Meaning: When the cat’s away the mice will play
18. Ukubona kanye ukubona kabili – Once beaten twice shy
19. Amanxiwa Kamili Mbuya
Meaning: A rolling stone gathers no moss
Could be used to refer to / warn someone who changes jobs a lot
20. Uphembela emoyeni – He lights fire in the wind
Meaning: He favours strangers (whom he might never see) than his own people
21. Udla indlu yakho njengentwala – You eat your hut (hair) like a lice
One who destroys the same thing he benefits from just as the lice eats the hair it accommodates
Meaning: One who bites the hand that feeds him
22. Akukho nkwali yaphendela enye – There is no partridge that scratches for another
Meaning: Each one must look out for himself / do things for himself
23. Ingwe Idla Ngamabala – A leopard eats by means of its spots
Meaning: Each person survives off his/her talent
24. Inkunzi isematholeni (the bull is among the calves)
Meaning: Leaders of tomorrow come from the youth
I would be very interested to hear about those special characters (phrases, sayings, proverbs, idioms etc.) that make your language more interesting and distinctive.
BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF MKABAYI KAJAMA
By Norma Masuku
Princess Mkabayi of the Zulus is acknowledged to have been a callous woman. Being one of twins, she was destined to be killed in infancy according to tradition. Her compassionate father, King Jama, could not bring himself to kill his own offspring, so Mkabayi and her twin sister, Mmama, both survived, much to the displeasure and disapproval of the Zulu people.
They feared the wrath of the ancestors should both the twins be allowed to live. This fear became a reality when the queen died before bearing the dynasty an heir. Because Mkabayi had a stronger character than her twin sister, she bore the brunt of the Zulu people’s disapproval and hate. She was held responsible for all the misfortunes of the royal family and the populace at large. When Mkabayi realized that the Zulu people were still yearning for an heir, she wooed Mthaniya Sibiya for her rather indifferent father.
The king consequently married Mthaniya and this union produced the long-awaited heir, who was named Senzangakhona (Well-doer). This name reflected King Jama’s acknowledgement that Mkabayi had done well to court Mthaniya for him. This swayed the hearts of the nation towards her, especially since the erratic Jama had offended his subjects once again by marrying a pregnant Thonga woman who had given birth to Sojiyisa. The nation feared that this illegitimate boy would inherit the Zulu throne.
Mkabayi soon lost the love she had gained from the Zulu people when, on the death of Jama, she imposed herself on the nation as regent for her brother Senzangakhona. This was unheard of in Zulu history, but men succumbed to her guile and domineering character. Her unscrupulousness shocked the nation once again when she instructed her army to destroy the powerful Sojiyisa, who posed a threat to Senzangakhona’s reign. She was dubbed a blood-thirsty despot and one of the evil
women of antiquity, a woman whose primary aim was the continuance of the Zulu dynasty and its traditions.
When Senzangakhona came of age, Mkabayi stepped down in his favour, but unfortunately, Senzangakhona was not destined to live long. After a short reign, he was succeeded by his son, Shaka, one of the most able emperors the world has ever known. Shaka, on ascending the throne, ruled his people without recourse to anyone for advice. Yet, despite Shaka’s success, when he was accused of abusing his power, Mkabayi did not hesitate to plot the assassination of a man who was to become the first and most powerful of the Zulu kings. She, together with her nephews, Dingane and Mhlangana, planned the murder of Shaka. Desirous of putting Dingane on the throne, she later murdered Mhlangana.
Mkabayi remained unmarried, preferring to retain her independence, political influence and position as head of the Qulusi military kraal.
She played a major role in Zulu history, deposing various kings and helping them ascend to the throne; her power and influence were felt during this time which was of great historical importance to the Zulu nation. Many years later, when Captain Gardiner went to Dingane on missionary work, he found her old, but still very powerful (Fynn, 1950:12). She died a lonely woman during the reign of Mpande. For her part in the killing of Shaka, Mkabayi stands condemned to the present day.
IZIBONGA ZIKAMKABAYI / PRAISE POEM OF MKABAYI
Elidl’umuntu limyenga ngendaba;
Ladl’ uBheje ngasezanuseni.
Ngibone ngoNohela kaMlilo, umlil’ ovuth’intaba zonke,
Ngoba lumbambe wanyamalala.
Yakhal’ umlomo wayo wabhoboz’izulu,
Iye yezwiwa nguGwabalanda
Ezalwa nguNdaba wakwaKhumalo.
Intomb’ ethombe yom’umlomo.
Zaze zayihlab’imithanti zawonina.
Bayazibamba usezibuka ngamehlo.
Abanikazimuzi bangene ngezintuba.
UMhlathuz’ uzawugcwal’ emini.
Imbibakazan’ eyaqamb imigqa kwaMalandela,
Ithi yikhona bezoqananaza ngazo zonk’izindlela.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION PRINCESS MKABAYI’S PRAISES
‘Father of guile!
Cunning one of the Hoshoza people,
Who devours a person tempting him with a story;
She killed Bhedu amongst the medicine men,
And destroyed Mkhongoyiyana amongst the Ngadini,
And killed Bheje amongst the diviners.
Morass of Menzi,
That caught people and finished them off;
I saw by Nohela son of Mlilo, the fire-that-burns-on-every-hill,
For it caught him and he disappeared.
Beast that lows at Sangoyana,
It lowed and its voice pierced the sky,
It went and it was heard by Gwabalanda
Son of Ndaba of Khumalo clan.
Maid that matured and her mouth dried up,
And then they criticized her amongst old women.
Who shoots down birds for her people,
As they catch them she is simply watching on.
The opener of all main gates so that all people may enter,
The owners of the home enter by the narrow side-gates.
Sipper of others of the venom of the cobra,
The Mhlathuze river will flood at midday.
Little mouse that started the runs at Malandela’s,
And thought it was the people of Malandela
Who would thereby walk along all the paths.’
Extracts from the depiction of Mkabayi: A review of her praise poem byNorma Masuku