Zulu Luma

Dogs bite.  Babies bite their moms when feeding.  Some kids fight dirty by sinking teeth into someone’s arm.  Movies have scenes where lovers playfully bite each other.  Some people bite more than they can chew.  Bite is luma in Zulu.
The first part of the word lu-ma is pronounced as in lunar.  The second part as in mama.

Musa ukungi-luma.
Don’t bite me.
Inja iya-luma.
The dog bites.
U-mango wam.  Luma kancane.
It’s my mango.  Bite a little.
U-moba wam. Luma kancane.
It’s my sugarcane.  Bite a little.
I-gwinya lam.  Luma kancane.
It’s my doughnut.  Bite a little.
I-pizza yam.  Luma kancane.
It’s my pizza.  Have a small bite.
Let me have a bite.
Ngi-lunywe inyoka.
I was bitten by a snake.
Ziya-luma izinyosi.
Bees bite.
Baya-luma o-mosquito.
Mosquitos bite.

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


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