Friday, May 1, 2009



By Fred Khumalo
Apr 26, 2009

Embrace your inner Zulu — and become one with the coolest people in the country today
Now that we are about to have a 100% Zulu person as president, I can safely assume that it’s cool to be Zulu.

In response to floods of inquiries from South Africans of non-Zulu extraction who are dying to understand the Zulu psyche, I have put together a short A-to-Z idiot’s guide into the state of being Zulu. Here goes:

A is for amabele — in our language, “amabele” means two things: “sorghum”, which is beloved to us as we can make porridge out of it, and sorghum beer as well. Sorghum beer makes us jovial. The other meaning of amabele is “women’s breasts” which, as any proud Zulu man can confirm, are also beloved to us.

B is for bhaxabula — to beat a person vehemently, a favourite Zulu pastime. The synonyms for (uku)bhaxabula are ukubhibiza, or ukubhonya.

C is for is for (uku)cula — singing. Singing, as the new president has demonstrated, is very close to our hearts. But C is also for Clegg, Johnny Clegg. This visionary white man saw the light a long time ago and became a genuine Zulu man when it was still unfashionable to wear Zulu garb in public places.

D is for (isi)dudula — a firm woman with a nice, well-formed behind, and good amabele — a true African woman.

E is for ehhe — which means “yes”. We like saying “ehhe”, especially when the full sentence is: “Ehhe, ngiyaphinda ngithi ngizokushaya” (Yes, I am saying it again, I am going to donner you! (Beat you up).)

F is for fihliza — to demolish. Just what the ANC did to the opposition this week.

G is for (uku)gida — traditional dancing, as ably demonstrated by our new president.

H is for (e)hositela — that’s where many of our men choose to reside, in hostels. H is also for (i)hlongandlebe — the one who is so stubborn it seems as if he was dropped on his head when he was young. In other words, Julius Malema.

I is for inyoka — snake. We hate snakes with a passion — especially if the snake in question is actually a person, an untrustworthy person who holds a differing political viewpoint. I is also for imbongi — a poet. Zulus love a good poet — one who is the opposite of Mzwakhe Mbuli.

J is for (i)jele — jail . We are afraid of jail, but our predilection to ukubhaxabula always lands us ejele. J is the place our president fought hard to avoid.

K is for Khumalo — the loveliest people on earth, as long as you don’t mess with them.

L is for (i)landi — that is “rands” to you, the stuff you produce when you buy something at the shop. We have great respect for ilandi and go to great lengths to acquire them . Some say we steal ilandi, when in fact we are actually repossessing the ilandi stolen from us by successive unfair governments and uncouth exploitative employers.

M is for is for (u)mantshingelane — a security guard. There was once a time when being a security guard was every Zulu boy’s dream. But then non-Zulus like Nelson Mandela and Mbhazima Shilowa decided to become mantshingelanes. Ah, a great tradition lost its glimmer and glory.

N is for (uku)nqoba — to be victorious. We love being victorious, no matter what the contest. That’s why the ANC had its siyanqoba rally last Sunday.

O is for Ofezela — The Scorpions. Zuma outsmarted their sting ... just!

P is for (i)phixiphixi, a hypocrite. The best example of amaphixiphixi would be the leaders of COPE who say they are defending the constitution, when in fact they served in a regime that undermined the constitution by using state resources to settle political scores. Amaphixiphixi!

Q is for (uku)qudula — to be cantankerous. The editor of this newspaper has his favourite illustration of a person who qudulas — some chief whose surname starts with a B, the leader of what once passed as a political party representative of Zulu people. History took care of that lie.

R is for ... no, we don’t have an R in Zulu. We say ilandi, instead of rands, Fled instead of Fred.

S is for (uku)shaya — to beat up. But ukushaya is a milder form of beating up, as opposed to ukubhaxabula and ukudukluza.

T is for (ama)tekisi — taxis. We have a monopoly over ibhizinisi yamatekisi (taxi business) — as drivers, queue marshalls, izinkabi (enforcers) and, of course, owners.

U is for ukudla — food. We don’t talk about food — we eat it.

V is for (uku)vova inkani — to frustrate a person. We derive pleasure from frustrating people. When ANC voters flocked to polling stations on Wednesday, they were collectively determined to do exactly that to opposition parties — to vova them.

W is for (uku)wina — we love winning, whether it’s a debate, a stick fight, a race between taxis, or the Lotto.

X is for (uku)xoxa — to converse. We like conversing, and we are good raconteurs, as our good president has so ably demonstrated. But X can also be for (uku)xabana — to quarrel. We don’t choose to be quarrelsome, it’s just that the entire universe is quarreling with us. So we strike first.

Y is for Yehheni! — an exclamation of surprise, as in: “Yehheni-bo! Nansi ingulube inginonela” (My gosh, this pig is getting fatter — in other words, This person is being quarrelsome with me and I am going to do something to him.)

Z is for Zulu. You know what that means. But Z can also be for (uku)zuma. Ukuzuma is a verb that means “to ambush”, or “to surprise”. Zuma has done exactly that — he has zuma-ed those who had dismissed him as a spent political force given that little matter of the charges.

Now that you’ve been enlightened about Zulu ways, why not hug that Zulu who’s been standing on your stoep begging for your attention? During Mandela’ s and Mbeki’s eras, every influential person had his own Indian. Now every South African must have his or her own Zulu. Have a Zweet weekend!