Personification: AmaZulu Style

Since I am needing additional language practice, I am initiating the isiZulu word of the post.

isiZulu: Mbali
isiNgisi: flower (or a girl’s name, it is my roommate’s Zulu name)
Meaning: the thorny and though plants all over my hillside that I should be more whimsical about).

My first weekend of service fell over Easter weekend. As we drove into my valley where I would start this adventure, the hillside was blanketed in wildflowers.

IMG_0921 (2)In my American brain, they were wildflowers or cosmos. When I asked about the phenomena, my director said the AmaZulu called them “Good Friday Flowers” because they appear around Easter time.

IMG_0935 - CopyWell the “Good Friday Flowers” are very resilient. They thrived for 3 weeks, and now as the air gets colder, they are starting to withdrawal and take a crisp texture. Yet last week, I was introducing myself to the induna (local branch of the Zulu monarchy, they fall under the chief’s jurisdiction, who fall under the king), and while getting out of a car, I stepped into a patch of dried up cosmos and they bestowed some scratches on my ankle!

IMG_1102Last week, my host sister was waiting with us for a taxi and commented on the flowers. She told me that the Zulu name for the flowers were called ikholwa which means Christian. When asked about the meaning behind Christian, thinking it had some symbolism related to the bible, she said they mimic the church uniforms. Around Easter time, many churches have a huge gathering, and you would see women in colorful skirts, sometimes a jacket, and a white blouse attempting to catch taxis to their church’s location. Some churches have uniforms year round, last weekend I took a taxi to town and there were a few gogos (grandmothers) decked out in red who were trying to attend a Saturday service.


The only uniform colors I have seen are red, white, teal, and blue. I am a bit confused because the in my area display lovely shades of hot pink, light pink, and white. Four months in South Africa and I have yet to see a pink church uniform. Then again growing up in the Catholic Church, the only time a priest displayed bright pink robes was the third Sunday of Advent (coinciding with the pink candle for joy) and sometimes one Sunday of Lent. However I remember that most of them opted for white or purple on those days.


Maybe I am taking this too literally, but in case anyone was keeping score in terms of creativity:
AmaZulu: 1, Katey-Red: 0


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