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Moving on from our earlier list of South African slang words, we’ve just discovered the most delightful Facebook page that appears belong to an individual, Melusi Tshabalala. Melusi has taken it upon himself to do an isiZulu ‘word of the day’ on his FB page, and the results are not only informative, but also highly entertaining! So if you want to expand your vocabulary, and lighten your day at the same time, then do yourself a favour and pay a visit to Melusi’s page.

We’ve included an extract of one of his posts below, just as a little taster…..

Coming out of a Phuza Thursday, some of our younger friends (probably older ones too) phuza-ed, got phuza-ed and are not waking up at home. We don’t judge. In fact, in honour of your escapades, today we deal with a bunch of Zulu words that refer to ‘house’ and ‘home’. You have ikhaya, indlu, kithi, kwami, kini and kwakho.

As soon as our entrepid and maybe regretful Phuza Thursday marauders woke up, they probably heard one of these: “Hamba ekhaya. Hamba endlini. Phuma kithi. Phuma kwami. Hamba kini. Hamba kwakho.” It was worth it though, right?

Everybody knows ‘khaya’. Khaya is home. Indlu is house. Simple enough.

But with kithi, kwami, kini and kwakho things start to get interesting.

You use these words to help people understand which home or house, you’re refering to. Kithi is ‘MY family home’, where I live with my parents, siblings and even relatives. Kini is ‘YOUR family home’, where you live with your parents, siblings and even relatives. Kithi and kini are where we come from. They’re our roots. They also refer to where we were born. People will ask you “where’s home” and you say Sandhurst, and they’ll respond: “No, man, I mean kini?” and you respond: “Oh, Chiawelo.” Then they respond: “Hoh, uyiShangane. That makes sense.”

I remember the first time, I met a young black person who told me they’re from Sandton and when I said “I mean kini, not a flat”, they said Sandton. My mind was blown. As far as I knew, all black people were born in townships or the rural areas. What sort of witchcraft was this? I figured her family worked closely with the apartheid governement (izimpimpi), hence they could afford to live in the burbs so early after apartheid. Of course, I was wrong. Or was I?

Anyway. Kwami, on the other hand, is my house, where I live now that I’ve moved out of home. Kwakho is YOUR house, where you live, now that you’ve moved out of home. But kwami and kwakho are a bit tricky because if you live in a commune, you can’t call it kwami. In fact, if you go around calling the commune kwami, your housemates might just kick you out for being a prick. If I refer to your commune as kwakho in front your housemates, they might kill you while you sleep because they assume you’ve been teling people you’re the boss.

Kwami and kwakho are quite possessive and people are very touchy about them. So in the period, between the time you move out of home and when you get a place you can call your own, you’re in limbo – a ghost, floating between kini and a non-existent kwakho. The sad part is when you don’t even have a place to call kithi. This is why SA’s housing crisis is such a screw up.

Other people, who find themselves in limbo are grown-ups, who upset their spouses. The wife kicks you out: “Hamba kini, nja ndini (dog)!”.


You get to your parents’ house and they tell you: “Hamba kwakho.”


Your parents eventually relent, but your younger sibblings won’t let you be comfortable: “Ak’sikwakho la (this is not your house), you don’t decide what we watch on TV”.


Tough life.

I have a dream of a South Africa, where all grown-ups have a place they can call kwami. Only until their spouses kick them out, of course.

DISCLAIMER: All scenarios depicted in this post are fictional and are solely for illustrative purposes. The writer has never been kicked out of the house he calls kwami. EVER.

Or has he?


Image courtesy of www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

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