Interview excerpt, Lili Xivuri
Interview #1 (056)
24 September 1995

L The Xivuri people, we come from Lauti.
H Where is that?
L Hey! Could I know that place, way over there in Joni?... Mmm, the Xivuri people, they came from over there, in Vecha.... They, they leave, two young men. 1 Massinge and Mahumana. They come here. They say, they were chasing wild animals, while they were hunting. Well, when they arrive here, they arrived, they find that that the land of the Mudaka. Mm-hmm. When they find it is the land of the Mudaka, well,...they find the Mudaka people here. They found that, that chief, he took their land, that Machingele. Well, that Machingele, he was really oppressing them 2.... When they're drinking beer, here one person is sitting, here another person is sitting [L indicates positions in sand]. These, these girls. When he leaves, he jabs into the ground, he jabs into the ground 3 —he has those things, you know? [to Ruti] They used to make mats with those things.
R Mmm.
L He jabs into the ground, then he leaves, and they go 'eee'! [L smacks hands on her arms] He stabs them [in the arm].... Well, when they [Xivuri brothers] see those people like that, they say, "Hey! They are suffering!—" [R interrupts to ask for clarification] That thing, it's called a riqodogo, that long one.... He stabs them [in the arm] with it, he leaves with them, he stabs them, they bleed.... Well, when he does those things, when he's ready to leave, when he says "Ah, let's go, I'm going home," they say that all the beer, all that was left in the pots, it all turned into blood, it went "tshwooo!" They pour it all out on the ground, they don't drink anymore, they don't drink the blood....

Well, those Xivuris, they said, "We can do it, we won't oppress them, we can overcome him." Well, those Xivuris made lots of holes in the ground. They dug, they dug...they said, "Cook up some beer." They [the people of Mudaka] cooked some beer. They dug, they dug, they dug, they dug. They laid a fire down inside [one of the holes]. As they remove the sand, they put it over there, and they cover [the holes] with masangu [reed mats], they go "mmm." [L lowers palms to ground, demonstrating] Eh-heh. Well, the fire they laid, they remove the firewood, all that stays behind are those hot coals.... They call that chief [Machingele], they say, "Here, this is your mat." When he sits down, he falls inside the hole, and well, they took a basket, 4 they poured all that sand there on the chief, there on the chief, right there. They pour it, they plaster [the hole] closed, right there.... Well, when they had done those things, the Mudakas, they said, "Well, you Xivuris, you killed that person for us, that chief who was oppressing us. Here there are girls, here there is land—which do you want?" They say, "Hey, we want land." They say, "Ah, that's fine, you can take it, the land, and indeed you will govern us."

Well, that's how they found this land for us. So they take some of this misava [soil], they go back to their home with it, back there. When they go home, they show it to their older brother, this Dzevula.... They all come [to see], all the men and the women. Well, they said, "This is the land that we found. We fought for it, to kill that person [Machingele]."... Well, they return here, those Xivuris. They came to govern, to be the chiefs. The vuhosi [chieftaincy] of Dzevula, it's that place, over there [L gestures to southwest]. Well, here in the middle, it was Massinge. Over there [L gestures to east], it was Mahumana, over there at our place.... Say, I forgot, there's another one, a khosazana, an elder sister, she was governing over there [L gestures to north].... There are four, indeed, because, that elder sister,...she is over there, at Ximonyana.... I don't know her name. They are all the children of one woman.


Note 1: Majaha (sing., jaha), young men roughly between 18 and 35 years of age.  Back.

Note 2: Kuhlupha: to trouble, annoy, oppress.  Back.

Note 3: Lili uses the verb kudzima, which means to thrust or plant something—e.g., a pole, pick, or spear—violently into the ground so that it remains standing. However, Lili's next words indicate that she is not referring to a pole or spear but probably (to judge from Ruti's more detailed explanation to me, which I have not included here) to an awl of some kind used for piercing reeds in preparation for sewing them to make masangu (reed mats), traditionally a male activity. The two women called this object riqodogo, a term I have not been able to find in Tsonga-Shangaan or Zulu dictionaries. What exactly Machingele was doing to the girls with the riqodogo, beyond somehow piercing their arms and then pulling them along with him (?) when he left the beer-drink, is not clear from either Lili's narrative or Ruti's translation. During the interview Ruti herself was unsure of what Lili meant, but after one request for more information it did not seem appropriate to interrupt Lili again.  Back.

Note 4: Xirhundzu: a large conical basket made by women.  Back.