Skip to main content

Wellness in Zulu


Phila is wellness or good health in Zulu.  Come to think of it, it also means being alive.  It is right there in greetings, in both South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Kunjani?
How are you?
Ngi-ya-phila.
I’m well.  I’m alive.

Good health or wellness is a big thing in countries where people live on credit cards.  They buy anything that promises them to be healthier.  Fads about ‘super foods’ crop up from time to time.
People who live off the land, eat what they grow and what nature offers them.  No scientific names, just knowledge about what plants are good for the bones, nursing mothers and the mind.

Phi-la.  The first part is pronounced as in pick or peak, the second part as in language.

ZULU
ENGLISH
Phila.
A boy’s name.
Philani.
A boy’s name which means many people should be well.  Maybe there was a sickness in the family when the child was born.  It could be many things.
Phili-sile.
A girl’s name.  You have made us live or made us well.
U-mama aka-philile.
Mother is not well.
U-baba aka-philile.
Father is not well.
U-Franz aka-philile.
Franz is not well.
Ba-njani abazali bakho?
How are your parents?
Ba-ya-phila.
They are well.
Ba-phila kahle.
They live well.
U-phila kahle u-Bill Gates.
Bill Gates lives well.
U-phila kahle u-Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah Winfrey lives well.
U-phila kahle e-khanda?
Is your head working?  Are you insane?  This is said in anger.
U-phila no-bani?
Who do you live with?
Ngi-phila naye.
I live with him/her.
Si-phila sonke.
We live together.

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Twin Cities - Cleaning and Fitness

I must go back to the gym.

That is what is always trending in January.The gym is where people use all kinds of steel and iron gadgets to get rid of the food they consumed in December and call to order rude extra flesh. However, fitness centres cannot fix what is caused by a chosen lifestyle.Granted, office workers are chained to their desks for seven or eight hours.They have no choice but to drive to the gym after work to bend and crouch, to get the blood flowing again.

A chosen lifestyle might be sitting on the couch eating food that becomes a tenant of the waistline, addiction to certain TV shows, crunching potato chips while playing video games the whole day, always drinking soda that loves to inherit certain parts of your body and not bending to pick up anything. Bend and crouch.That is what a workout is all about.Bend and crouch. To get a clearer meaning of these twin words, check out some ads for cleaning offices, homes, hotels and anything else cleaned by people we call, the less…

Meghan Markle's Son Commonwealth

Commonwealth.


That is the most appropriate name for Meghan Markle’s son because his father is the descendant of a family that exercises what is called the divine right of kings, which led to the invasion and subsequent ownership of people who do not look like that family. We don’t know Commonwealth’s last name because his parents are not referred to as Mr. and Mrs. somebody.We also don’t know if they have a social security number or pay tax.

What we know is that Commonwealth’s parents are globe-trotters because the sun never sets on what was known as the British Empire, with tentacles reaching Africa, Australia, Caribbean, Hong Kong, India, North America, New Zealand and everywhere where the British navy landed, took the land through the barrel of the gun, imprisoned local kings, instituted British education to drive the money economy, shaved kids’ heads because their kind of hair supposedly had lice, punished them for speaking African languages and annihilated African culture using the…

Pretending to be Busy in Zulu

A translation dilemma!

·to act busy is di-di-ze-la in zulu.
·to be really busy is also di-di-ze-la. Which one should we use for this lesson?My mother’s.She used to watch my shenanigans at being busy and she would ask me.

Nonqaba wenzani?Uyadidizela nje.Angiboni ukuthi wenzani.

(Nonqaba, what are you doing?You are acting busy.What exactly are you doing?)  Haayi!You can never fool the woman who carried you in her belly for nine months and risked her life to bring you into this world in one piece.Women still die in childbirth, unfortunately.
We’ll start with the positive.Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair is one of my favourite classics because preparations for the wedding remind me of Africa: relatives arriving from afar, being sent to fetch them from the train station or airport, massive pots to cook for the masses, brewing African beer, cousins running around, aunts cooking and trying to understand elders and their eccentrics. My favourite moments with baba-mkhulu, ma’s dad was his quest…