Xhosa Names & Meanings: The “ABC’s of Xhosa Names” by Thandiwe Tshabalala.
South African Illustrator and incredibly talented young creative Thandiwe Tshabalala recently sent me these awesome gifs highlighting and celebrating beautiful names in her mother tongue of Xhosa.
Here’s what she had to say about her series:
"Way back, when apartheid was taking place in South Africa, parents used to give their kids English names so that white people wouldn’t have to struggle pronouncing African names. Most people born during the times of apartheid were given names like: Knowledge, Margaret, Mavis (which has negative connotations), Innocentia, Innocent, Jeffrey, Gloria…eek..Let me just stop there. However, when black folks got their ‘freedom’ back, they went back to naming their children African/South African names."
Trailer for MAXHOSA BY LADUMA soon-to-be-released fashion film “My Heritage, My Inheritance”.
Inspired by creator Laduma Ngxokolo's Xhosa heritage, MAXHOSA BY LADUMA is an innovative knitwear line that seeks to preserve culture through contemporary fashion. Traditional Xhosa aesthetics are merged with tailoring and garments from other parts of the world, all made with South African mohair and merino wool, to create items ranging from cardigans to cushion covers. Laduma’s designs are more specifically inspired and guided by the Xhosa Ulwaluko (male circumcision and initiation) ceremony, one of the most important events in the life of a young man as he graduates into manhood.
Undoubtedly one of my favourite local designers, their facebook page is full of fabulous inspiration. Not to mention this trailer has left me highly anticipating the release of this film.
A. M. Duggan-Cronin, “Bomvana Initiates,” South Africa, c. 1930.
From what I understand, ‘Bomvana’ is a Xhosa clan name.
Xhosa clan names are family names which are considered more important than surnames among Xhosa people.
Each Xhosa person can trace their family history back to a specific male ancestor or stock. Mentioning the clan name of someone you wish to thank is the highest form of respect, and it is considered polite to enquire after someone’s clan name when you meet them. The clan name is also sometimes used as an exclamation by members of that clan.
When a woman marries she may take her husband’s surname, but she always keeps her own clan name, adding the prefix Ma- to it. A man and a woman who have the same clan name may not marry, as they are considered to be related.
Xhosa woman in South Africa smoking an inqawe/inqawa
Typically, the long-stemmed pipes are smoked by older women – women that tend to have a high status within the community, while men smoke the short-stemmed pipes. The pipes were commonly made by specialist pipe carvers, who would sell their wares in their own as well as in surrounding villages. These pipe carvers used the heartwood of the “mnyamanzi” or Acacia Caffra tree, which grows in the central regions of the Eastern Cape. In many areas in the Eastern Cape, such as areas close to the Drakensberg, this particular acacia does not grow, so pipe carving was not commonly practiced in those areas.
The hole in the stem of the pipe is made using a long heated awl, called an “ibhola” in isiXhosa. The bowl was hollowed out and usually lined with a piece of tin to prevent the wooden bowl from charring or
burning when the pipe was smoked. The detachable mouthpiece or “ingcaphe” was usually made by the owner of the pipe and was not shared by another smoker who might want to have a few puffs of a friend’s pipe. The reasons that the mouthpieces were not shared, had nothing to do with the issue of health, but rather to avoid being contaminated by magic.
Laduma Ngxokolo may only be 24 years old but the designer has already drawn critical praise for MaXhosa by Laduma, a burgeoning menswear label that celebrates the Xhosa heritage of South Africa with its vibrant, boldly patterned knits. Crafted in Port Elizabeth from a locally farmed and milled blend of merino wool and kid mohair—all the better to counter the region’s soaring unemployment rate—the multihued sweaters and vests feature eye-popping designs based on recurring motifs in Xhosa beadwork, such as the zig-zag, axe, arrow, and diamond.
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Madosini was born in 1922 in a village called Mqhekezweni in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
She is considered a national treasure and also one of the most important figures of Xhosa traditional music.
As a young girl, she was taught by her mother to play the uhadi, umrhube and isitolotolo, all traditional Xhosa music instruments. At the same time, she began writing songs and also making her own instruments.
Madosini cannot read or write, and only speaks Xhosa. Colonisation and Apartheid and have led to the gradual disappearance of the culture of oral literature that was once so key to Xhosa society.
Madosini believes that it is her responsibility to carry on with the traditions of story telling and to pass these gifts on to the next generation of Xhosa musicians.