On mar­gin

Finweek English Edition - - Piker - – Melusi’s #ev­ery­dayzulu by Melusi Tsha­bal­ala

Of chant­ing and walks of shame

This is­sue’s Zulu word is buyisela. Buyisela is to re­turn/re­store/take back.

Those who grew up in Zulu-speak­ing town­ships will prob­a­bly re­mem­ber the child­hood taunt “Ma­thenga-thenga buyisela, buyisela...”

Ma­thenga-thenga is re­lated to thenga – buy. So ma­thenga-thenga buyisela was es­sen­tially: “Hey, id­iot, you bought the wrong thing and must now re­turn it.”

The neigh­bour­hood kids would re­lent­lessly chant it as you made your way to the shops to re­turn the wrong item you had bought. The re­ally ter­ri­ble kids would even fol­low you all the way.

I al­ways mixed up the veg­gies. Let’s say my mom sent me to buy toma­toes. I would come home with onions. Not only would I re­turn with the wrong thing, but I would also take ages be­cause, in­stead of go­ing straight to the shops, I would have stopped to play with the other kids, which is also why I would for­get what I had been sent to buy. That ma­thenga-thenga buyisela walk of shame was al­ways worse than the spank­ing it­self. No one wanted to be the kasi domkop. Just think­ing about it makes me want to cry.

It didn’t help if you re­turned home again with the wrong thing be­cause it was hard to hear in­struc­tions while get­ting smacked for the first in­cor­rect pur­chase.

Any­way, ev­ery time the courts or­der a cor­rupt politi­cian, busi­ness­man or pub­lic ser­vant to pay back money they stole, we must fol­low them and chant: “Mantshon­sthantshontsha buyisela, buyisela. Mantshontsha-ntshontsha buyisela, buyisela...” Mat­shontsha-ntshontsha is re­lated to ntshontsha – steal.

In the in­stances men­tioned above, the word ‘ma’ in­di­cates some­one who has done some­thing or does it a lot. A good ex­am­ple is ma­jaivani, which is some­one who jives a lot and, of­ten, well. So mantshontsha is a thief.

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