Indlovukazi, or YAASSS QUEEN

I’ve written many times here about how confusing the siSwati language can be. This post isn’t entirely about that. (I should note that my students frequently remind me that English is extremely difficult, and I agree.) One example of siSwati’s confusion is any number of ways to refer to males and females. Umfana (pronounced oom-fa-nah) and lijaha (pronounced lee-jah-ha) both refer to an individual boy. Bhuti wami (pronounced boo-tee wah-me) and mnaketfu (pronounced oom-nah-gate-foo) both mean “my brother”. Make (pronounced mah-gay) means “mother”, but it’s also used at times to mean “woman”. Umfati (pronounced oom-fah-tee) means “wife”, but is also used to mean “woman” at times. Dzadzewetfu (pronounced zah-zay-wait-foo) and sisi wami (pronounced see-see wah-me) both mean “my sister”.

On my homestead, my host family consists of my host mother and sister. Others may come back at certain times of the year. One of the people who comes back often is my host brother, who lives and works in South Africa. He speaks many languages including Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans, and English. Sometimes, I understand the Zulu and very small pieces of Sesotho. When my brother speaks to our little sister, I try to follow the conversation. Luckily, most times it’s siSwati or Zulu. I noticed that whenever he addressed her, he always started “Indlovukazi…”. That’s not her given name (which no one uses) or her nickname (which everyone, including our make, uses). I kept hearing it.

Indlovukazi, ufunani kudla (what do you want to eat)?

Indlovukazi, ufundze njani (how was school)?

Indlovukazi…

Indlovukazi…

One day, I decided to ask him what Indlovukazi meant. He chuckled, and explained that Indlovukazi (pronounced en-jlo-voo-gah-zee) means “queen” in Zulu. (In siSwati, it’s Indlovukati). He went on to explain that he wants her to grow up knowing that she’s a queen and demand to be treated accordingly. He explained that it’s his responsibility as an older brother to demonstrate how the world should regard her. It’s true. Our little sister might have a few names and be called many things in her lifetime. I can only hope that she remembers she is Indlovukazi.

Be kind to yourself.
Onward.

P.S. – I would like to publicly thank my students who make sure I rise to the challenge of learning and speaking siSwati.

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Sweet Dreams – Obama girl

Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember). 

​I was discussing something on Twitter. I was engaging with followers and whatnot. I was also coming back from a trip. I was coming back to DC. I had mentioned this on my Twitter. Anyway, a day or so after I arrived in DC, a follower contacts me to talk about the topic I was discussing with my followers earlier. We engage in a dialogue and decide to meet up since we’re both in DC at the time. 

I meet a young lady. She’s in her late teens or early twenties. We meet by the White House. It’s Obama’s daughter. (In this dream, the Obamas only have one daughter, and she looks like a mixture of Malia and Sasha.) We start chatting. She asks if I have ever been in the White House. I say that I haven’t. She invites me in.

The first thing I notice is that there is a massive bathroom. I think to myself that I should really ask to use the bathroom as it’ll probably be the most luxurious bathroom I ever have a chance to use. I don’t ask because I’m so excited that I don’t even have to go to the bathroom. Me and Obama girl are talking about life, and whatever we were discussing on Twitter as she gives me an impromptu tour of the White House. I’m only engaging partly because I’m so excited to be in the White House, and that the president’s daughter follows me on Twitter. Apparently, I’m too excited to even take pictures. We get to the museum part of the White House and I ask Obama girl if she’ll take a picture of me with a bust of Obama. She agrees. It’s the only picture I have from the visit and the occasion. 

Later that evening, or the next day, I’m sitting in a car with my mother and brother. I’m explaining to them what happened my brother is in disbelief and telling me all of the reasons that it couldn’t have happened. My mother is listening and supportive. But I’m not sure she knows what Twitter is. I look up and we’re sitting outside of my grandmother’s house in NW DC. 

Be kind to yourself.
Onward.

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