Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2017

Singing in Zulu

Singing is cula, in the Zulu language.A song is iculo.

There is nothing painful like someone singing off key, and he is not aware that he has lost it.There’s a lot of singing in Canada on July 1 because it is Canada Day.Americans will sing a lot on the 4th of July, their national holiday. The holidays are also days of revelation because you guys do not know the words of your national anthems, but you know the Twitter and Facebook anthems by heart.

Cu-la.I cannot think of an English equivalent for the first part of this verb.It looks like cumin, but it would be a soft -c-.The second part is pronounced as in laugh.
ZULU ENGLISH Cula iculo le-sizwe lase-Canada. Sing the Canadian national anthem. Cula iculo le-sizwe lase-United States of America. Sing the American national anthem. Cula iculo le-sizwe lase-South Korea. Sing the South Korean national anthem. Ba-cula ngesi-Ngisi. They sing in English. Ba-cula ngesi-Hindi e-Bollywood. Bollywood sings in Hindi. Cula-ni zingane. Kids sing. Ngi-lalele umculo. I’…

Screenplay College Modules

I wish I could be a mosquito and skulk around lecture halls where students learn how to write screenplays.

No. No. The intention is not to bite anybody, but to find out how lectures are different from what everybody knows about screenplays. Delete that.I should say what everybody knows about movies.We say we are going to the movies, not to screenplays.

You and I love movies so we are patient with credits, because they tell us who designed the costumes, who did the props, who staged the car chase and computer graphics.

As for the actual Hollywood movie, we know that the opening scene will be people brushing their teeth; somebody will be late for work; the elevator will be packed; the move will have a best friend, worse still, the movie will be centred around four friends; there will be a nightclub scene etc. O.K.You fill in the rest of the blanks including the ending. What can I say?Lights! Camera! Action!

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness, a South African novel.

Making Fire in Zulu

Basa is to make a fire in a wood burning stove or outdoors.  North Americans love barbecues in the summer, where they grill meat, poultry, fish and corn.

Ba-sa. The first part of the verb is pronounced as in bath but with a soft ‘b’, the second part as in sabotage.
ZULU ENGLISH Clunis, basa. Clunis, make a fire. Thoko, basa. Thoko, make a fire. Stefanus, basa. Stefanus, make a fire. Ku-basiwe. A fire was made. Ku-basiwe. There’s everything (usually a party that is well-stocked with food and drink). Basa nge-zinkuni. Make a fire with wood. Basa ngama-lahle. Make a fire with coal. Basa.Kuma-khaza. Make a fire.It is cold. Basa.Ngifuna uku-pheka. Make a fire.I want to cook. Ba-sela ngaphandle. Make a fire outside the house. Ba-sela imali yakho.  Debt, when someone owes you money, you fan the fire to get it back.  Basela imali yakho.

Zulu Phela

Phela is the Zulu word for finished.It’s painful when love flies out of the window, especially these days where marriages and love games are played out before strangers, online.

Phe-la can also be used in a positive way like saying work is done, we can go home or graduation, where students look forward to getting jobs. The first part is pronounced as in pearl or pet, the second part as in lark.

ZULU ENGLISH Uku-funda kwami ku-phelile. My education is over. Umsebenzi u-phelile. You are laid off.There’s no more work. Lu-zo-phela usizi. The pain will be over. O-ku-nga-pheli kuya-hlola. Everything comes to an end. Ku-phelile okwethu. It’s over between us. Lu-phelile u-thando. Love is finished.There’s no more love. Lu-phelile ubisi. Milk is finished.There’s no more milk. I-mali i-phelile. Money is finished.There’s no more money. I-phelile i-movie. The movie is over. U-phelile u-petrol. Gas is finished.There’s no more gas. Imoto yami i-phelile.

Secret Agents On The Dole

The FBI, CIA, MI5, KGB and other espionage outfits globally, are facing massive lay-offs because the nature of their job has changed.Intelligence.I suppose it is called intelligence work because before the internet, gathering sensitive information needed intelligent men and women.

Not anymore.It is out in the open, or should I say on your screen?Forget Wikileaks.We know about that.I’m sure CIA mini directors, Google that before they drink their morning coffee. Bloggers and ordinary folks also post all kinds of information that is supposed to be ‘classified’, classified against the people to protect governments and their secret dealings.

How about defections?We don’t hear about those anymore because somebody defecting from the USSR to the U.S. is not bringing any fresh state secrets.Most of them can be found online.Sorry.I blame Hollywood for all those movies about scientists and ballet dancers defecting. Hollywood has also stopped making movies about double agents (spies).I’m a triple ag…

Hope in Zulu

Themba is to hope.Brides hope it doesn’t rain on their wedding day. Politicians hope they will win elections.Pregnant women in rigid cultures hope they’ll give birth to boys, because girls mean financial problems.We plan and plan and plan, but still hope everything goes well.
I-themba is the noun.The verb is themba. The first part is pronounced as in template or tell, the second part is in the German town Hamburg.
ZULU ENGLISH Themba. A boy’s name. Thembani. A girl’s name which means many people must hope. Nicolae i-themba lami. Nicolae is my hope. Petra i-themba lami. Petra is my hope. Vuma i-themba lami. Vuma is my hope. Terence i-themba lami. Terence is my hope. I-themba alibulali. Hope doesn’t kill. Themba mnta-nami. Themba my child (usually a mother’s lament). Siya-themba bazo-fika. We hope they will arrive. Siya-themba nizo-phasa.

Winning The Lotto

Cash flow.I was thinking of going to the corner store to play the Lotto, to boost my cash flow which is not moving at all, let alone flowing.
I panicked when I thought that I might actually win and be forced to hold that monster cheque written $5,000.000.It is not the size that is daunting.I can hold that mock cheque designed for photo shoots. What I cannot deal with is the possibility of getting new relatives because of the money.

I have a pretty good idea about family members on mama’s and papa’s side because I was a loved child.I thought mama was funny when she always told me to go to my people, the Msimang family.She said she had her own, meaning her maiden name. The Lotto windfall might change all that.I can imagine family members sprouting up like a volcano, claiming to be my cousins twice removed from my father’s or mother’s side.

I like that.Twice removed.If you describe yourself as my relative twice removed.You are just that. You were never a family member.

I also have news for cl…

Trying in Zulu

Zama is to try.Keep trying.Keep trying.  Keep trying. It works for some, not for others don’t despite trying all their lives.Athletes that compete in the Summer and Winter Olympics never give up though.They will keep trying for that gold. Za-ma.The first part is pronounced as in Zara, the second part as in market.

ZULU ENGLISH Zama. A boy’s name. Zama. A girl’s name. No-mzamo. A girl’s name. Zamo-kwakhe. Neutral name, which means someone is trying his or her thing. Ngi-zo-zama. Ngi-zamela i-gold medal. I will try. I'm trying for a gold medal. Zama futhi. Try again. Zama futhi, Isabelita. Try again, Isabelita. Zama futhi, Austin. Try again, Austin. Kodwa ba-zamile. They tried though. Kodwa si-zamile .

Journalism Tombstone

There was no need to erect a tombstone when the mischievous internet killed newspapers in your hometown.They are now free in some American and Canadian cities or sell for a dollar. It was also a matter of relocation.Newspapers and magazines went online.You had an annual subscription so, you used to put on your slippers and gown and go outside to pick them up from the lawn or mail box. The time has come to put up a tombstone for journalism and the internet - our usual scapegoat - is not to blame.It is suicidal.Print media is killing itself. Credibility.Journalism students used to be taught about credible sources.Not anymore, because when the internet is supposed to be ablaze about something, newspapers use tweets with no faces, to support stories. Online commenters who hide their faces are the most vocal and are usually the ones that light up the fire, which is then picked up by media as breaking news. Faces.Journalism had a face.Somebody with a face alleged something.The media called that …

Happiness in Zulu

Jabula, means to be happy.It reminds me of the song, 'don’t worry be happy’.I just need to remember the singer. People tend to be happier during the summer in North America.Young people are happy when they are accepted in the college of their choice.American voters are happy when their choice becomes U.S. President.

Ja-bu-la.The first part is pronounced as in jar, the second part as in bull, but make it a soft ‘b’ and the last part as in lark.
ZULU ENGLISH Jabulani (Jabu, the short version). A boy’s name which means be happy, at the baby’s birth.Most African names are part of family history.What was happening in the family when the child was born?What did the family wish for when the child was born? Bajabulile (Jabu, the short version). A girl’s name which means they are happy about the baby.Most African names are part of family history.What was happening in the family when the child was born?What did the family wish for when the child was born? Ngi-ya-jabula uma ngikubona. I’m hap…

Banks and Statistics Canada

I knew it.Banks are up to something.Now they want to tell the whole world about my financial health or lack of it.

Online banking has its good and evil side.The good one is that you can bank at your desk at home, while enjoying your mint tea or local brew.The bad side is that you can do banking on your phone while someone is doing an important slide presentation at work. Banks tell us online banking is about managing our finances, but it is becoming scary.There is a bank that is offering us to ‘anonymously compare your income and spending to other ….. customers.'We will leave out the bank’s name for fear of litigation.

This bank needs to break it down for me.I understand the anonymous part, but how will it pan out? I cringe at the thought that, the information about my sorry bank accounts will be viewed by other people.O.K.My name wont be there, but it is still my private information. Do I even have an income?A few dollars come in.They say hello Nonqaba and off they go to pay for this…