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Terms are in Shangaan unless otherwise noted. Words preceded by a dash are Shangaan verb infinitives, presented here alphabetically by verb stem without the infinitive prefix ku-.

Definitions of Shangaan terms are adapted from Tsonga-English Dictionary, comp. R. Cuenod (Braamfontein: Sasavona Books, 1967) and English–Tsonga Tsonga–English Pocket Dictionary, 6th ed. (Braamfontein: Sasavona Books, 1988). Definitions of Zulu terms are adapted from Compact Zulu Dictionary. English-Zulu Zulu-English, comp. G. R. Dent, ed. C. L. S. Nyembezi, 6th ed. (Pietermaritzburg: Shuter and Shooter, 1995).


aldeia communal (Port.). A communal village.

agricultor (Port.). A private or commercial farmer who typically relies on mechanized technologies (e.g., irrigation) to produce for the market.

-basela. To give a small gift in recognition of a purchase made—e.g., when a shopkeeper gives a customer an additional item beyond what s/he has paid for; to tip for service.

bava. Father.

byala. Beer made from maize; generic term for homemade beer.

cantina (Port.). A small shop; canteen.

capulana (Port.). A length of colorfully printed cotton cloth that women wear wrapped around their waist, like a skirt. See also nguvu.

chefe de posto (Port.). A rural administrator, head of a Posto Administrativo within a district.

cheleni (from English shilling). A Mozambican monetary unit equivalent to 5 escudos.

chomi. A close female friend.

combe. A river.

cunhado/a (Port.). A brother-in-law or sister-in-law.

curandeiro/a (Port.). A healer, diviner.

deslocado/a (Port.). An internally displaced person.

-duva. To have intercourse with a prospective spouse, more or less in secret.

dzuka. A Mozambican monetary unit that is half of a cheleni and equivalent to 2.5 escudos.

-endza. To travel, go on a journey to visit someone.

escudo (Port.). The basic monetary unit in Mozambique after 1910. It was replaced by the metical after independence in the 1970s.

-femba. To smell out. See nyamusoro.

fole. Tobacco, snuff.

ganga. An area controlled by a ndhuna; a rural district, local community.

-ganga. To choose or accept a boy or man as a lover.

-gangana. To accept one another as lovers, make love to one another.

-gangisa. To persuade a girl or woman to choose or accept one as her lover.

gelegele. A prostitute, a woman who accepts cash for sex or who has multiple partners See also nghwavava.

gogogo (from the noise made when water is poured from it). A four-gallon tin.

hahane. The sister of one's father.

hakelo. Payment, wages.

-hanya. To live; to be well, in good health.

-hlahluva. To consult divining bones, or tinhlolo.

-hlupeka (Zulu). To be worried, troubled, in distress; to suffer.

hosi. A chief, king, monarch, master, lord (as in "Lord Jesus").

jomela. A clay vessel used mostly for drinking beer.

ka. At, to, from; a locative term used with names of people and nouns, as in ka hosi (at/to/from the chief's place).

kalangu. A large clay vessel used for brewing beer.

kanyi. The fruit of the nkanyi tree; known in South Africa as marula (botanical name Sclerocarya caffra, Port. canhu).

-karhata. To be difficult, annoying, burdensome; to fatigue, tire out, weary, bother.

khale. Long ago.

-khangula. To use a cooking vessel (i.e., clay pot) for the first time.

khuwana. A large spherical clay vessel used for carrying beer or water, not for cooking.

khwati. Woods, forest, "bush."

khwirhi. The belly, stomach.

kokwana. Strictly, a grandfather, a grandmother; maternal uncles, or their wives and sons; in plural, ancestors; generally, a term of respect for an elderly person.

-kombela. To ask for, beg, demand.

-korhoka. To work for one's mother-in-law; used of a bride and her friends who spend a few days helping the bridegroom's mother before and sometimes after the wedding.

kulorhi (adj.). My fellow (as in wansati kulorhi, my fellow women).

kuloni (adj.). Your fellow.

kulobye (adj.). His or her fellow.

kululeko. Independence from colonial rule.

-laya. To instruct in right behavior, admonish.

-lovola. To give bridewealth for a wife.

lovolo. Bridewealth.

machamba (Port.). A cultivated field.

mahanyelo. A way of living; customs, habits.

makandu. A tattoo pattern consisting of triangles made from small, round, tightly clustered keloid scars.

makwavo. His or her brother or sister.

makwenu. Your brother or sister.

makwerhu. My brother or sister.

male. Money, a coin.

mamana. Mother.

manghezeni. Generally, a place of English-speaking people; Magude residents use this term specifically to refer to South Africa.

maphila. Millet, sorghum.

marhumbi (sing. rhumbi). Ruins; specifically, the deserted site of a former homestead.

maseve. A term of address used of and between the parents of a married couple.

masi. Milk (except human).

matimba. Strength, power.

mavisweni. Namesake; a term of address used of and between people bearing the same name.

mbangu. A place, spot.

mbilu. Heart.

mbita. A generic term for a clay pot.

mbowa. Wild greens cooked and eaten as vegetables.

mestiço/a (Port.). A mestizo, person of mixed race.

metical (Port., pl. meticais). Mozambique's basic unit of currency, adopted after independence.

misava. Earth, soil, sand.

misse. (from English miss)—the term of address for female mission personnel, who at Antioka were usually in charge of the infirmary, social-work activities, and education.

misto/a (Port.). A person of mixed race.

mitsingi. Labia majora.

moya. Air, wind, spirit, soul.

mpondo (from English pound): A Mozambican monetary unit equivalent to 100 escudos.

muchongolo. A type of dance.

mufundhisi. A Christian teacher, especially a minister.

mugayeyiso (Zulu). A challenge to battle, used especially with reference to fighting among groups of herdboys.

muhedeni. A heathen, a non-Christian.

mukon'wana. A kinship term for a person (e.g., a son-in-law) with whom there is a link by marriage.

mukriste. A Christian.

mulandin. A black person.

mulungu. A person of European descent; a white person.

mumbi. A potter.

munghana. A friend.

munumzane. A headman, male head of a muti, or homestead.

murhi. Medicine; a tree, plant.

murimi. A farmer.

muti. A family homestead; a village.

mutlhaveli. A person who "cuts" tinhlanga, or tattoos; a tattoo artist.

mutsongwana. A child.

muvangeli. An evangelist.

nawu (pl. milawu). A law, custom, rule.

namu. Generically, a sister-in-law; specifically, a wife's younger sister or a husband's younger brother.

ndhuna. A village headman; a counselor to a chief.

ndlwini. A locative term meaning inside, in, to, or from the yindlu, or hut or house.

ndyangu. A family; also, a central open space or yard in a homestead.

ndzhaka. Pollution from death (often used in the plural, tindzhaka).

nganakana. A subordinate chief, equivalent to Port. chefe (or cabo) de terras.

nghwavava. A prostitute, woman who accepts cash for sex or who has multiple partners. See also gelegele.

nguvu. A length of colorfully printed cotton cloth that women wear wrapped around their waist, like a skirt. (Port. capulana.)

nhlambeto. A large, wide-mouthed clay vessel for cooking.

hlampfurha. A castor-oil plant.

nhlangwana. A young (usually married) woman with one or two children.

nhlantswa. The daughter of a woman's brother, or a woman's younger sister; she may be married by her husband as a junior wife.

nhova. A bushy area, wilderness.

nhwanyana. A girl.

nkaka. A bitter-tasting herbaceous climber used as vegetable, widespread in the Magude area.

nkambana. A small clay dish, used mainly for serving food.

nkanyi. A tree bearing kanyi fruit (botanical name Sclerocarya caffra, Port. canhoeira).

nkati. My darling.

nkosikazi (Zulu). A chief wife.

nkwakwa. A type of fruit, known also as monkey orange (botanical name Strychnos innocua Del.), indigenous to southern Mozambique, especially important as a famine food in arid regions.

noyi. A witch, wizard.

nsati. A wife.

nsimu (pl. masimu). A cultivated field.

nsungukati. An elderly (postmenopausal) woman with authority; a midwife.

ntamu. Strength, power, force.

ntangha. An age group.

ntlhava. Light grey sandy soil.

ntombi (Zulu). A girl, usually postpubescent.

ntswha. New, young.

ntukulu. A grandchild; also, a sister's child.

ntumbuluku. Creation, cosmos, nature, origin; old custom.

nuna. A man; a husband.

nxurhana. Ornamental keloid scars in a geometric design consisting of parallelograms and triangles, usually worn on the front or sides of the stomach.

nyaka. Rich black soil with high clay content.

nyamusoro. A spirit medium, a diviner who identifies witches by "smelling."

nyatihomu. A sister-in-law (of a man) who was married with the lovolo he gave for his own wife (i.e., a nyatihomu is the wife of the brother of a man's wife); a sister-in-law (of a woman) whose marriage provided the lovolo for her own marriage (i.e., the married sister of woman's husband).

nyauthi. An assistant of a nyamusoro, or spirit medium.

nyimpi. War; an army.

n'anga. A diviner, healer (Port. curandeiro).

n'wahuva. A type of sorghum.

n'wingi. A woman's mother- or father-in-law; also, her daughter-in-law.

-pfunana. To help one another.

-phahla. To offer sacrifices to ancestor spirits.

pongo. Noise, uproar.

primo/a (Port.). A cousin.

-qoma (Zulu). To choose a lover.

qondo (Zulu). Knowledge, common sense.

regulado (Port.). Colonial chiefdom, ruled by a régulo.

régulo (Port.). A government-appointed African political authority or chief.

ridaka (Zulu). Clayey mud used for plastering and as mortar.

rikatla. A mussel shell.

risima. Value.

sangu. A reed mat used for sleeping and (for women) sitting.

sede (Port.). Headquarters; the seat of local government, as in Magude sede.

sumbulana. A Mozambican monetary unit equivalent to 50 escudos.

sweswi, swoswi. Now.

swibayana (sing. xibayana). A facial tattoo consisting of clusters of small keloid scars on the cheeks, forehead, and chin.

tate. An elder sister.

-thwasa. To complete rites of healing from spirit possession and training to become a nyamusoro.

-thya. To name, give a name to.

tiko. Land, country; people living in country.

-tlhavela. To pierce, cut; to inoculate.

tinhlanga (from sing. nhlanga). Ornamental cicatrization, keloid scars, or ink-based tattoo.

tinhlolo (from sing. nhlolo). Divining bones.

tintshaveni. In the hills or mountains; used in Magude to refer to the Lebombo Hills.

tintswalo. Benevolence, kindness, mercy.

-tlanga. To play, play games.

-tsundzuka. To remember, ponder.

-tsundzuxa. To remind, advise.

-twanana. To be on good terms, have an understanding; make an arrangement.

-vaviseka. To suffer.

vinyi va tiko (sing. n'winyi wa tiko). Owners of the land.

vito. A name.

vovo (from Port. avó). A grandmother; used as an affectionate term of address for an elderly woman.

vukanyi. Beer made from fruit of the nkanyi tree.

vukatini. A woman's marital home.

vukwele. Jealousy, especially among co-wives.

vuloyi. Witchcraft.

vumba. Potter's clay.

-vumba. To make clay pottery.

vusankusi. Large ornamental keloid scars worn on women's lower abdomen and pubic area.

vusiwana. Poverty; lack of relatives; solitude.

vuswa. Thick maize porridge, ideally prepared stiff and served as a smoothed mound.

vutlhari. Wisdom, intelligence, cleverness.

vutombi. Girlhood, female adolescence.

vutomi. Life; health.

vuxaka. Kinship, a family tie.

xaka. Paternal or maternal relative, excluding parents and siblings.

-xanga. To abandon conventional behavior, be led astray, go crazy; specifically, to become immoral, a prostitute

xichavo. Respect, deference, fear.

xifake. An ear of fresh green maize.

xifula. A form of witchcraft involving ingested poison.

xiginya. A regional dish consisting of a thick cooked mixture of boiled, mashed manioc, and ground peanuts.

xihiso. A large, deep, wide-mouthed clay vessel used for grinding and grating.

xihundla. A secret; a secret place.

xikanekiso. A fort, used to refer to government buildings.

xikola. A school.

xikombe. A type of millet.

xikope. Graphite used to decorate pottery.

xikoxana. An old woman (often in a pejorative sense).

xikwembu (pl. swikwembu). An ancestor spirit, a possessing spirit; (cap.) God.

xilandin. The customs, language of black people.

xilungu. The customs, language of white people.

xilova. Ornamental keloid scars consisting of sets of parallel vertical and oblique lines, usually worn on the front or sides of the stomach.

xinghana. Friendship.

xingombela. A type of dance.

xipenda. A type of dance.

xiponyola. The Spanish flu.

xirhengele. A large potsherd used as a dish.

xirhundzu. A large conical basket.

xisiwana. A needy, destitute person; an orphan, a widower.

xitikini. A patch of ground cleared by children as a place for playing and dancing.

xitsundzuxo. A reminder, memorial; advice.

xivongo. A clan name.

-xongisa. To make beautiful.

-yila. To be forbidden, taboo.

yindlu. A hut, house.



Binding Memories: Women as Makers and Tellers of History in Magude, Mozambique