Saturday, 2 March 2019

Chapter 14: Ngoni Greetings Lesson

In Ngoni as in other Nguni people’s culture greetings are very important. It is a recognition of other people’s humanity (ubuntu). The greetings differ on the basis of the status of the people involved by following a pecking order. Older people and the inkosis (kings), indunas (headmen), mulumuzanas are obviously of a superior status and must be respected.

The equivalent of the English hello in Ngoni is Salibonani, Sakubona or Sawubona and the response to this is yebo, or yebo salibonani/sakubona/Sawubona.

Salibonani greeting can be used at anytime of the day and night. It therefore also can used to represent the English “good morning” and “good afternoon”.

Sawubona or Sakubona is usually used to refer to one person and is usually used among the youth. When addressing more than one person then one should use salibonani or sanibonani, with the ni being the equivalent of the English pronoun we.

When addressing adults the Ngoni use Salibonani or Sanibonani. It is also the greeting used among adults.

It is important to remember that the second last syllable of a word word is a little longer than the others. Therefore the greeting, Sanibonani is pronounced more like, san-bonaan.

The underlined syllable below shows what we are talking about.

Sa-ku-bo-na

Sa-wu-bo-na!

Sa-li-bo-na-ni

How to Say How Are You in Ngoni.


The most common equivalent of “how are you?” is Unjani? or Ninjani? or Banjani? By using banjani you are addressing someone in the third person which is the highest form of respect among many African people’s languages.
Note: Only use unjani when addressing a kid or a friend, otherwise use Ninjani or Banjani even when addressing one person. It shows respect.

Example of Greeting between young people (Themba and Masiye)

Themba: Sawubona Masiye (Hello Masiye)

Masiye: Yebo, Themba (Yes, Themba)

Themba: Unjani? (How are you?)/ Kuhamba kanjani kuwena? (How is it going with you?)

Masiye: Ngikhona. Unjani wena?

Themba: Nami ngikhona.


Example of Greetings Between adults

Maseko: Salibonani, Jele?

Jele: Yebo Maseko.

Maseko: Ninjani kodwa? Basaphila abantwana? How are you(but) Is the family well? (Even though Abantwana means children this greeting is for the whole family.)

Jele: Sikhona. Sikhona, Maseko. (We are fine. We are fine, Maseko) Kunjani kunina? (How are things with your family?)

Maseko: Nathi sikhona. Siyajabula uma nani nisaphila. (We are also fine. We are happy when you (plural are also well.)




Greeting between a youngster and an adult

Yethukile: Salibonani mama (Hello, mother)

Mother: Yebo, Sawubona, mntanami (Hello my child)

Yethukile: Banjani, omama, basaphila? (Literally means how are they, the mothers, are they well)

Mother: Sikhona, unjani wena?

Yethukile. Ngikhona.

How To Say Goodbye in Ngoni Language

There are two expressions that express the idea of goodbye in Ngoni. These are Sala kahle (means stay well) or Salani kahle (stay well (plural)) and Hamba kahle (go well) or hambani kahle (go well).

You use sala kahle or salani kahle to someone who is staying behind. The one staying behind will say hamba kahle to the one leaving. If both are leaving then they will both say hambani kahle or hamba kahle to each other.

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