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#Asifunibumbulu - we don't want any nonsense

17 May 2017 at 09:34hrs | Views
The Etymology of the Term "Ubumbulu"

This is one of the most creative and original axioms currently trending among Ndebele speakers of Mthwakazi after last Sunday's abandoned soccer match between Highlanders and Dynamos Football Clubs. To be fair to the coiners of the term, it is in excellent isiNdebele!. There was "khonapho khonapho" (short cut for 'khona lapho, khona lapho') a few years back which also went viral but #Asifunibumbulu seems to have gained more traction.

This is a most welcome demonstration of the functionality of isiNdebele as a living language. It is not a borrowed axiom from SA (as is normally the case) or a transliteration from neighbouring languages.

The term "ubumbulu" (unbecoming behaviour) is a pure Ndebele word which has been lost by most Zulu speakers. It is derived from the behaviour of a mythical animal in Nguni folklore known as "imbulumakhasana" which in everyday language is simply "uxamu"(monitor lizard).

Nguni folklore is replete with accounts of how the Monitor Lizard (imbulumakhasana) would usurp the role of the bride through deceit, misrepresentation and impersonation and ends up enjoying privileges meant for the bride while the bride herself becomes its waiting lady. In one such stories Princess Buhlaluse fell victim to its devious propensity and was only saved by a song she sang every time she was busy labouring for the Lizard while it got pampered by the in-laws who mistook it for the real bride. Fortunately, one of the people ebukhweni heard Princess Buhlaluse's song and informed the elders who used milk to trap the Lizard. Once it sees milk imbulu can't hide its tail, that way it gets unmasked.

Back to the match between Highlanders FC and Dynamos FC, the concept of " imbulumakhasana" applies remarkably. Somebody tried to facilitate the usurpation of the potential winner's role through misrepresentation and impersonation. The coiners of the axiom are the sending a message that, for soccer matches in Zimbabwe to be fair between these teams and others which always get robbed of their victory when playing the referees' favourite side, it's critical that Ubumbulu (false representations) must stop.


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