Amagama esiZulu (amqondo fana) anencazelo efanayo

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;


  1. Indlela / Inyathuko = path
  2. Gibela / Khwela = to hop on
  3. Umiyane / umndozolwane = mosquito
  4. Uvalo / ingebhe / itwetwe / ukungenwa amanzi emadolweni = fear
  5. Umangobe / ikati = cat
  6. Inja / Ingcanga = dog
  7. Inkukhu / impandane / isiphandamazala = chicken
  8. Unyoko / umama waloyo okukhuluma naye / mother of the person you are talking to
  9. Unina / umama wakhe = his/her mother
  10. Impakama / ilanga / intshida = sun
  11. Ukukhophoza / ukubheka phansi ngokushaywa amahloni = to stir on the ground shyly
  12. Amabhodwe / izimbiza / amakhanzi = pots
  13. Umhluzi / isobho = gravy / soup
  14. Ingonyuluka / iqiniso elimsulwa = honest truth
  15. Isihluthulelo / isikhiye = key / lock
  16. Iseqamgwaqo / unondindwa / umuntu wesifazane ongaziphethe kahle = a promiscuous woman
  17. Isipatsha / isipawupete / intombi enhle kakhulu = a beautiful young woman
  18. Umalokazana / umakoti = dauther-in-law
  19. Ingodosi (ingoduso) / umuntu wesifazane oselotsholwe / wife-to-be / fiancée
  20. Indle / itshe lentaba = a polite word for “shit”
  21. Umbungu = featus
  22. Inani / intengo = price
  23. Ikhala / impumulo = nose
  24. Amehlo / amaqaphelo = eyes
  25. Imali / inkece / uphacane = money
  26. Amafutha / amathambiso / amagcobo = oil
  27. Amaqanda / amachoboka = eggs
  28. Umfana / umkhapheyana = boy
  29. Utshwala / amanzi amponjwana = alcohol
  30. igwala / ivaka = coward
  31. Umthondo / ipipi / iphobane = penis
  32. Ukuzigqaja / ukuziqhenya = to be proud
  33. Ugqozi / ufuqufuku / ilukuluku / umqhanagu = enthusiasm  / oomph / having great energy
  34. Ikhehla / ixhegu = a very old man
  35. Iziqabeko = sanitary pads
  36. Indoda / injeza = man
  37. Inkinga / ingwadla = problem
  38. Indlu / inkathelo = house
  39. Phuza / natha = drink
  40. Isinkwa / isiphoco = bread
  41. Ukweshela / ukuqomisa / ukukhuzela (shouting of love vocatives) = to woo a girl/woman
  42. inyama / incoso = meat

Ngiyethemba nawe unawo awakho ongasicobelela ngawo kumaComments;

Nime njalo! Nina Besilo!

Soka Mthembu

FURIOUS LOVE: The mysterious romantic life of Shaka kaSenzangakhona and Mbuzikazi Cele

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.
Who’s pregnant?”

“It’s rather who made whom pregnant that I find fascinating, my husband,”
she responded.
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:-)

Beyond Zulu Experience: A journey in pictures

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

Swing your hips, baby: The theatrics of Zulu Courtship and pick up lines

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:

Dudlu Ntombi!
[Hey Girl!]

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.

Credits:
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

Velemu Khanyile … the better days of his life

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)