South African Names

South African names are steeped in so much meaning and significance. Many (if not almost all) of them are words or terms that are used directly in everyday language. Here are a few of my favourites, along with (related) facts about the people known by them:

Rolihlahla‘the Branch-Breaker/Trouble-Maker’.
The first name of Nelson Mandela (‘Nelson’ was a name given to him at school). Mandela was one of the founders uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) and was sentenced, in 1964 along with other freedom-fighters , to life imprisonment for his involvement in the struggle against apartheid.

Dalibhunga: ‘Convener of the Council’.
Another name given to Mandela after completing the Xhosa rite of passage into manhood. Mandela initiated the discussions that eventually led to the ending of apartheid in South Africa. In 1994, he became the country’s first democratically elected President and was at the helm of its first democratically elected Government and Parliament until his retirement in 1994 (thus, in a sense the convener of the nation’s first democratic council).

Bantu: ‘People’.
Bantu Stephen Biko, leader of Black Consciousness Movement, has gone down in the books of history as one of South Africa’s greatest  activists, intellectuals, and philosophers. His philosophies on Consciousness – although directed at black South Africans – are, to this day, relevant and important for the empowerment of all South Africans. A quote from the collection of his writings titled ‘I Write What I Like’: “In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift – a more human face”.

Dumakude: ‘Renowned/Known in distance places’.
My father’s name. After a successful behind-the-scenes Broadway career in the United States, he returned to South Africa where his work in television would go on (and still continues) to make a profound impact not just on the industry, but also on South African culture. His work has reached some of the biggest cities in the world, and some of the most remote villages in South Africa.

Nganani: ‘How great are you’.
My (maternal) grandfather ‘s name. Born a humble person,  to a humble family, near the humble town of Barberton; by the end of his life (at the young age of 58), he had hada great influence on the lives of many, many people; including my own.

Zanokuhle: ‘You come with (something) good.
Given to me by my grandparents. Other names I have been given are Manqoba (‘conquerer’) and Gence (‘an axe’)**. They are a constant reminder to strive to be humble and courageous.

Sure, not everyone has a positive or even meaningful name – by no means does your name decide your fate in life. Names are only really as significant as we want them to be, but all of them tell a story. It’s up to you to find the positivity in your name, and it’s entirely up to you to make it come true.

According to Tara Long from DNews on YouTube, “it’s generally agreed that the outcome your name has on your success levels is pretty negligable. In the long run, your own personal efforts can easily outweigh the impact of your name”.

What’s your favourite name? What does your name mean? Would you give your children (or yourself) any of these names?

Z. 

 

Links:
Nelson Mandela: http://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/landing/life-times-of-nelson-mandela
‘What Does Your Name Say About You?’ (Video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04LSy8LbMXg

*The word ‘ubuntu’ derives from the Nguni word abantu (‘people’). A person is said to have ubuntu when they show proactive kindness and compassion towards others in a way that recognises and uplifts their personhood.
**There is a great story behind this name, which I hope to add to this article soon.

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Life Is Choices

Life is choices. Choices have consequences. And it’s these from these consequences that you are able to learn what kind of life you are living.

Consequences are usually seen as a bad thing: ‘Do it, or suffer the consequences… Be warned; there are consequences…’ But it’s a great thing that consequences exist because life, without them, is senseless. We see this all the time with people who have grown up not having to deal with consequences; it’s difficult for them to realise, understand, and change their negative habits or develop positive ones. My own journey towards appreciating these facts of life has been a long and tedious one; and it’s far from over.

Isn’t it amazing to be able to see the effects of something you’ve been responsible for? I mean, it’s not always pleasant (to be sure, sometimes it’s agonising) but even those experiences that result in negative consequences have countless life lessons hidden in them, waiting for you to learn from!

I find such comfort in the fact that there’s always something to learn from mistakes and failure. I can say this because more often than not, I see them as opportunities for growth and progress – growth and progress that will have come as a consequence of choices I have made. What a privilege.

Life is choices. Choices have consequences. And consequences are what make life worth living.

Z.

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The Adagio Albinoni Didn’t Compose

After listening to Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor (up until today, the only composition to his name I’ve ever heard) for what must be more than the 100th time, I started to get the feeling that there was something out of place about the piece. It’s an absolutely beautiful composition, but something about it sounds… not correct. It’s too ‘humble’ to be baroque, and very far ahead of its time.

Sure enough, a quick Google search shows that it’s a 20th century Albinoni-inspired composition by Remo Giazotto. Giazotto claimed to have arranged or composed the piece on a Albinoni manuscript containing only a bass line.

Now that I have noticed it, I feel like it was bound to happen. After all, there is something about the composition that seems to solemnly plead to be listened to over and over again; something about it that seems to want to be understood.

This is the second time something like this has happened to me (in no way am I going to claim to be an expert on these things). There is a Bach/Vivaldi compilation album on my music library on which I had mistakenly labelled the movement ‘Et In Terra Pax Hominibus’ as being a Bach composition. Although it took a long time (probably since I playlist and shuffle my music), I eventually realised that something didn’t sound at all like Bach about it; something I should have noticed much earlier as an self-proclaimed avid Bach fan. 

It’s nice to know I still have somewhat of an ear for these things. All those music theory lessons in high school are paying off.

Z.

Links:

http://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composers_timeline.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adagio_in_G_minor

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/summathissummathat/2013/06/tomaso-albinoni-and-the-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-one-hit-wonder-moniker/

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Guest Blog: Youth Day (by Vincent Obisie)

Democracy starts with an X

When I think of June 16 1976, I – like most South Africans raised in democratic SA (with the exclusion of nationalistic individuals of all races who do not really care about the sacrifices made for democracy) – automatically imagine myself running from a tank or machine gun fire during the Soweto Uprising and other fights and protests by the youth against the monster of Apartheid. For the sacrifices all those young ladies and gentlemen made, a holiday was made commemorating this struggle.

Now I sit in my bedroom in my family house in the suburb of Northcliff, wondering what happened to the promise and vision of the people of 1976. I mean as I write this, South Africa is in a serious crisis. I am presently thinking of an Afrikaans word that describes the situation but due to fact that this blog is kosher, I will leave it for…

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Today I vote.

Today I vote.

Today I vote for democracy
And for the South Africa
That I want to live in tomorrow.

Today I vote to say thank you
To the all those South Africans
That have defended this birthright
And passed it on safely to me.

Today I vote,
Because our National Assembly
Has 400 seats & not 50 Million.

Today I vote alone
As one person only
But we vote together
ǃke e: /xarra //ke.

Today I vote for you
To listen when I speak
And act when I cannot.

Today I vote for myself.

~ Zanokuhle
(07 May 2014)

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Diepsloot is not Poor

Over the past three or so years I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time in Diepsloot, mainly as an active & present member of the church I attend there.

I have had a privileged upbringing. The part of my childhood that wasn’t spent in leafy suburbs saw me living in suburban-looking homes in townships & rural areas, so part of me naturally expected to be ‘helping the underprivileged’, ‘making an impact’,  and ‘changing lives’ (I had been indoctrinated into believing that ‘poor’ places like Diepsloot needed people like myself to come and save them). Little did I think that Diepsloot would be doing all those things for me.

Spend enough time with the right people in the place (of whom there are many) and you will soon see that Diepsloot far from poor. Instead of poverty, you will find a community wealthy in hope, faith, and love. You will find people who are just as intelligent, genuine, and welcoming than anywhere else (if not more).

That said, I am not blind to the injustices that have become a normal part of every-day life there. Many of them definitely come from within the community. But many come from outside of it as well. The biggest of these are ignorance and judgementalism. I used to be able to treat with indifference the discussions in which people from townships would be labelled lazy and backwards; savage and barbaric; even as people who breed themselves into poverty. “Breed”. That is a word I have seen used just this year; a sign of the inhumane perceptions that some people hold to this day, as if their fellow citizens of this nation and of this human race were animals.

Now, any insult to them is an insult to me, and any blessing to them is oil on my head as well. The same goes for fellow citizens. That is community. That is unity. That is ubuntu.

To those of you e ba bitsang Diepsloot kasi ya lona, my message to you is that ke wena o tswanetsi go thoma ka mofetolo o batlang go o bona. The difference you make might seem small, but many tiny drops make up an ocean. Here’s one idea: maybe start with a campaign to change its name from “diep sloot” (literally meaning ‘deep ditch/gutter’) to something like Jukskei North* or Nyakatho**, for example. And don’t worry about what other people will think or say – they might be doing whatever they do to impress others, while they actually want the same things as you. Just try. You’ll be amazed.

And to those of you who think little of the place: Think again.

Not that I didn’t have enough to begin with, but in Diepsloot, I have certainly found a lot more people to call friends family and one more place to call home.

Z.

 

*As suggested by ‘Pastor G’ from my church, who came up with this great idea
** Zulu for “North”, since it’s even further north than the leafy suburbs

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Unabantu Bakho (Methodist Hymn)

A family anthem

South African Lyrics

Unabantu Bakho

[A Methodist Hymn adopted as an anthem by my (maternal) family]

[isiZulu]

Unabantu bakho, Nkosi, ngezikhati zonke.
Ubangcina, ubancede eendaweni zonke.

Mabewela imifula, ubanabo wena.
Mabeshiswa ngemililo, ubanabo wena.

Lapho beshushiswa khona, boqiniswa nguwe
Nasezilwaneni, Nkosi, bagciniwe nguwe.

Bakhangela kuwe, Nkosi, labo bantu bakho.
[Babubele?], bakuthembe, labo bantu bakho.

[isiXhosa]

Unabantu bakho Thixo, ngamaxesha onke.
Ubagcina, ubancede endaweni zonke.

Bakuwela imilambo, ubanabo wena
Bakutshiswa ngemililo, ubanabo wena.

Apho batshutshiswa khona, bomelezwa nguwe
Nasemarhamncweni Thixo, bagciniwe nguwe

Bakangela kuwe Nkosi, aabo bantu bakho
Babulele bakuthembe, aabo bantu bakho.

[English Translation]

You are with your people, God, at every moment.
You keep them, You help them through all things [places].

When they cross rivers, You are with them
When they are tested [burnt] by fires, You are with them.

Where they are persecuted, they will be strengthened by you
Even in the midst of danger [beasts], they have been kept by you

They…

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