Learning some local lingo

On Sunday, November 21, 2021, we celebrate World Hello Day. The purpose of World Hello Day is simple – to encourage communication and dialogue between people of different backgrounds to achieve peace and understanding. Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting people. South Africa is a multilingual country with eleven official languages making it easy to say “hello”. World Hello Day is also an opportunity for our Morukuru Family to celebrate South Africa’s linguistic diversity. South African English is littered with words and phrases from Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and other African languages. Locals borrow words and phrases from each language creating a unique lexicon of South African slang. To help you understand some local lingo before visiting us, we compiled this helpful list of vocabulary and phrases showing our favourite “South Africanisms”.

Braai is a widely used word for a ‘barbecue’ where meat is cooked over a fire or coals. You can experience this on your visit to Morukuru Family in the Madikwe. It is a tradition to enjoy an outdoor meal under the Boma, a word originally from Tanzania meaning “enclosure”. Sitting around before dinner, you might enjoy some biltong, a favourite South African snack made from dried and salted beef, ostrich or game (similar to beef jerky). When dinner is served, you could enjoy Boerewors, an Afrikaans term for a traditional South African sausage often served at a braai. If you really enjoy your evening, you might wake up the next morning with a Babelaas, which is local slang for a hangover. But after a few hours in the Bos (bush) spotting the big five, you will feel lekker (great) again. Some other helpful words for the bush include donga – which means ditch and comes from Zulu. So when out on a game drive, one of our rangers might say something like: “hold tight, guys, we are heading for a donga”. gogga –is a bug and is from Khoi-san, meaning creeping things shongololo – millipede comes from Zulu and Xhosa, ukushonga, and means 'to roll up.' During your road transfer from the Madikwe back to AtholPlace House & Villa in Johannesburg (Ijozi), your hosts might pack you some padkos (Food for a car trip - originally from the Afrikaans). Whilst en route, you could hear one of our favourite South Africanisms, the word robot, which refers to traffic lights or traffic signals in the rest of the world! Heading towards the city, Township slang is everywhere, and some of our favourites are: Mzanzi - which is a popular slang word for “South Africa.” Eish: which is a Xhosa word used to express “disbelief, regret or exasperation.” Sharp: which is often doubled up for effect (sharp sharp!) and means ‘goodbye’ or that everything is alright. Aikona: a strong refusal/disagreement, meaning "No! - from Zulu Mampara: a “fool”. Tokoloshe: a character from African folklore referring to a mischievous hairy dwarf. Now used as a pejorative term for a “small man.“ Moegoe – a “fool, idiot or simpleton”.

On arrival at AtholPlace House & Villa, you can settle into your luxury room, change your takkies (trainers) for slops (flip-flops) and pop down to the bar, which is totally different to a shebeen (an unlicensed bar or tavern). When offered an ice-cold drink, your answer could be yebo, the Zulu word for “yes” commonly used.

Moving onto Morukuru Ocean house & Morukuru Beach Lodge, situated within 36 000 hectares of unspoilt fynbos, making up the De Hoop Nature Reserve, that homes over 1500 plant species. In the Khoi-San languages, these plants are called buchu – a name applied to a range of medicinal plants traditionally used to make muti – a slang word for medicine (from Zulu umuthi). A person familiar with the diverse fauna and flora of De Hoop would be called a Fundi, which has its origins in Nguni "umfundisi," meaning teacher or preacher and is now used in mainstream South African English. When embarking on a nature walk through the reserve, you might choose to take a kierie - which is a wooden walking stick. The Khoikhoi indigenous people who were nomadic hunter-gatherers in the Cape and Namibia originally used the word kirri.

Whatever language you speak, our Morukuru Family is waiting to say “hello” with an abundant spirit of Ubuntu which means compassion, kindness or humanity.

We look forward to seeing you soon!