Zulu Ilanga

Ilanga (the sun) reminds me of growing up in apartheid South Africa.  We loved everything about African Americans because we believed that one day we will be free like them.  We consumed in large quantities their music, fashion and magazines like Jet, Ebony and Essence (bought in Swaziland).

What we did not understand was the pre-occupation with the summer.  Why do they always sing about the summer?  Now I know.

The sun is a big deal in Europe and North America because it is in short supply.

A boy’s name. There is a myriad of reasons why families like this name.  The new baby might represent the parents’ love or there might be problems in the extended family.  Bham! A baby is born, and it might bring unity.  Political independence might also bring sunshine.
A girl’s name.
Where the sun shines.
Ilanga li-balele.
The sun is shining.
Ineke -elangeni.
Hang it in the sun. (usually wet clothes).
U-muhle njenge-langa.
You are beautiful like the sun. (man making moves on a woman).
I-langa lami.
You are my sunshine.
Musa ukulala e-langeni.
Don’t sleep in the sun. (mama believed that it will make me sick).

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


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