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.