In the Bangor Comunity Choir we often sing songs from southern Africa in languages like Xhosa and Zulu. I don’t speak these languages, yet, and neither does anybody in the choir, so we’re never entirely sure how to pronounce the words. We usually have a rough translation of the words, so we at least know what they mean.
At the moment we’re learning a Zulu song called “Sesizo Hamba Kancane” which apparently means ‘Walk Gracefully (you people of modern days)’. Here are the words we’re singing:
Sesizo hamba kancane nje nge si manje
Sizo hamba kancane nge hoshimamma
This isn’t the whole song, but these are words are repeated in various combinations throughout.
I thought it would be interesting to find out what they all mean and how to pronounce them.
- sesizo – not sure what this means
- hamba [ˈhaːmba] = to go, walk, ride, travel – often appears in Zulu songs
- kancane [ɠaˈn͡ǀaːne] = a bit; a little; slightly; softly; slowly; gradually; tenderly; barely; scarcely – not an easy word to pronounce what with the implosive g and the dental click.
- nje [nʤe] = (suffix) merely; only; just
- nge [ŋge] = (prefix) not
- si [si] = we
- manje [ˈmaːnʤe] = now; at present
I’m not sure about the rest of it. We were told that it’s something about driving our mother’s car carefully. Does anyone know the song, or speak Zulu?
This is one of the songs we’ll be singing with lots of other choirs in London on Sunday 9th September this year at Sing for Water London. If you happen to be in London at that time, please come along a listen.