New Mexican Problems in isiZulu

People acquainted with me before this South African Life, know that I am a proud New Mexican. Albuquerque will always be home for me, even if I choose to live somewhere else. I am always amused when people struggle to spell my city (I do not understand America’s irrational phobia of q or z). I am an incompetent speller without Mircosoft’s aid (I could not spell Tucson right until I lived there for 4 months…that is another story) but we had to spell Albuquerque right on spelling tests starting in 2nd grade. The Basque name basically uses the same k like sound for q’s like English (granted it has probably been Anglicized but all verbal Americans are capable of saying Albuquerque if they try).

It was a slow Thursday at work and I was hanging out in the soup kitchen with some of the carers. We were looking at the centre’s menagerie of children’s books to see if I could find a basic isiZulu book to read to our OVCs (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) that afternoon for isiZulu practice. I found a book with an illustrated cactus and tried to tell the carers that this plant was also at my home. The PCV that I visited here in the Berg back in 2013, was also a Burquena. I have fond memories of creating tortillas in the kitchen area per her suggestion, and now I am the unofficial homemade tortilla maker for SA 31 (Ngiyabonga Kristen)!

I love this photo…505 pride in SA back in 2013

I love this photo…505 pride in the Berg back in 2013

Anyways I mention Nobhle and how we came from the same town. Suddenly I became aware that there are two q’s in the name. While most Americans panic at the site of q in the middle of the word, it is a different ball game in isiZulu. See q is one of the three tongue clicks (c and x are the other ones…more in future posts), and I would argue it is the most involved. The other two letters involve the tongue vibrating across the teeth, but q is a firm click from the top of the mouth. It is taxing for this American to do multiple q clicks in a row. I can get by ordering eggs (amaqanda) but more than one makes my mouth tired. So I took a deep breath and tried to Zululize (as my teacher would say from PST) my city.

Carer: What is the name of your town?
Zama: Albuquerque no wait…Albu click, uer, click ue

The Carers and I laughed for 30 seconds straight. Eish y’all I tried.

10 things I will miss about the bush

10 things I will miss about the Bush

1. Photo shoots with cheerful babies

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2. Family is never far away…introduce yourself as a Sibanyoni or a Mahlangu and chances area stranger turns out to be a distant cousin (for the record I am really sad to loose Sibanyoni as my last name)

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3. Sunday dinner and visits with my 90 year old Gogo.

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4. The toddler girl who lives across from the truck shop who would greet me every morning with the one English word she knows…Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!

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5. A slice of New Mexico at my bus stop.

I think they look like yuccas

I think they look like yuccas

6. Sunsets almost as good as New Mexico. Almost…

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7. The relentless antics of goats

..eating Mam's mealie (corn) plants

..eating Mam’s mealie (corn) plants

8….and the parade of hilarious ihaha (which sounds exactly like the sound geese make).

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9. Mam. She is an amazing woman who would laugh at my humanistic attempts of sarcasm.

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10. All the children on my street screaming MUSA and racing up the street for a hug at the end of the day!

MUSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MUSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ngiyabonga the Bush. I will sincerely miss you.
– Musa Sibanyoni (maybe I can hyphenate my last name).
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