Simply Sam Trading - Antiques.Brocante.Gifts

We stock a variety of vintage, antique and hand-crafted items. Available on our web store or select antiques and beautiful 'proudly South African' hand-made Gift items on sale or to view at VinLee Art Gallery Hilton College Road, Natal Midlands. Hilton off-ramp, N3, Kwazulu Natal

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Umlungu and the Zulu!

I had the most wonderful gardener when I moved here. I called him 'Madala' , which means 'old man' in Zulu, and he was getting on. Most of the enormous trees in my garden he claimed to have planted when he was a boy. He sadly died last year of TB, something that should never happen in this day and age. He couldn't speak English and I, Zulu, but some how we managed and as time went on, he taught me a couple of Zulu words. He would often go off to the Shabeen (local illegal pub) and get steaming drunk. I'd feel like his 'other' wife as he would come staggering home and I'd yell that I'd made his supper over an hour ago and "you've been to the shabeen again haven't you"! His smiling face was a picture.

I love chatting to my staff, but my current maid hardly speaks a word of English. I managed to get a joke across recently when she told me we needed more chicken food. "Are there any 'iliqanda' (eggs)?" I asked, knowing there weren't any. "Well, no 'sebenza' (work), no food" I said. Her hearty laugh assured me she has a good sense of humour. I sometimes get home to the most gorgeous bouquets of flowers that she puts together from our garden. She was re-doing our self catering cottage, and I saw she had put together an equally beautiful arrangement for the guests. Could she be missing her calling as a florist?!!!

I've blogged about my new gardener before, but have to mentioned that I'd asked her what her dream in life is. I was gob smacked to hear she wants to be a dental technician. So if there is anyone out there who thinks they can help in this regard, please let me know. 

On new years day, cycling down my road, I was horrified to see how one of the local ladies was now a shadow of her former self. I thought how lucky I am with good health and this lady looked like a walking skeleton. After enquiring after her health she told me she was awaiting her HIV results, which I now know are positive. I'd not seen her for a while and thought she must have passed away, though recently I saw her again and was so pleased to hear she had managed to get anti-retro viral and is now, in her own words, "number one!".

I'm grateful for the fact that I have been afforded the opportunity to learn more about the Zulus, since moving here, even if its just a few words. In the post office recently, when a Zulu man was standing almost on top of me in the queue, I felt compelled to say something, and not at all in a nasty way. I politely asked him why the Zulus, as a rule, do this and discovered that it is considered a way of letting people know they have nothing to hide, unlike the  'umlungu' (white person) who will stand far away, their handbags grasped tightly to their waist, as they are generally terrified in this crime ridden South Africa. 

I think the language barriers we have in South Africa are one of the biggest down falls. I would love the government to offer free lessons to anyone interested in learning the languages, as it could go a long way in bridging the gap. Although, which one of the thirteen official languages would you choose from?!!!

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