Author: Christine Mehta
Date: January 2011
People: Simphiwe Mbakaqana, Christine Mehta, Shayna Meliker
Data points: According to a 2001 count, in Eastern Cape Province, where Grahamstown is situated, 83.4% of the people speak Xhosa; 9.3% speak Afrikaans; 3.6% speak English; and 3.7% speak another language. There are 11 official languages in South Africa.
Perched on a mountaintop overlooking Grahamstown, Syracuse University reporters Christine Mehta and Shayna Meliker received a lesson in how to carry on a basic conversation in Xhosa, the indigenous African language and culture prevalent in the region.
Their instructor, Simphiwe Mbakaqana, is a traditional Xhosa nurse who helps young Xhosa men through the rite of circumcision, part of the process of passing into manhood.
Simphiwe taught Christine and Shayna how to greet someone, inquire how they are, and how to shake hands in Xhosa culture.
How are you?: “Unjani wena?”
I am fine: “Ndiphilile”
Nice to meet you: “Kumnandi ukudibana nawe”