Saturday, 24 August 2019

Ngoni War Songs Plus Grammar


This is a war song where the Ngoni are boasting about their origins. Simple song. Unfortunately I only have the text and not the tune.

Uyezwa na? (Do your hear?)
Umngoni uvela enzansi. (The Ngoni comes from the south-east)
Uyezwa na? (Do you hear?)
Uyezwa na? zi (Do you hear zi)

Alternative for line : Lo mngoni owaye enzansi. This Ngoni who was from south east

Grammar Notes:

Enzansi: can mean, downdward, on the lower side, down country, towards the coast but the Ngoni usually use it to mean Natal where they originally came from.

Uyezwa? : Do you hear, Ngoni Present continuous tense. From the root verb -zw-, hear/feel/smell/understand. This is part of the so called verbs "allergic" to -a- verbs because any "a" before them is replaced by "e". Therefore U+ya+zwa becomes uyezwa.

Lo : lo (this) is one of the ngoni demonstratives for class 1 nouns eg umfana, umuntu etc

Owaye: o (who) is the relative prefix for class 1 nouns but waye is one of the Ngoni verb auxiliaries from the verb ukuya, to go.

NGONI WAR SONG: ZEMUKA INKOMO MAGWALA-NDINI (There goes the Cattle you cowards)

This is a war song sung women, deriding the men to do great deeds. They would see herds of cattle being driven away hastily in villages passed on the march, and would sing this song to persuade the army to go after them.

I just found a 1911 Xhosa book with the same title as this song, Zemk'inkomo magwalandini Author: W B Rubusana; B B Mdledle Publisher: London : Butler & Tanner, 1911.

On the 1911 Xhosa book, I found the following on the internet: According to Satyo, based in the Department of Southern African Languages, the original Zemk' Inkomo magwalandini – its name means "There goes your heritage, you cowards" – signified the early start of an intellectual struggle against colonial authority.

Maybe it is high time we investigated the suggestion that Zwangendaba and his group were originally Xhosa before they moved to settle in Zululand. I suspect that the song below was originally Xhosa. I could be wrong. What do you our Nguni brothers from down south mzansi think?

Below is our Ngoni war song sang by Ngoni women. Enjoy!

Zemuka inkomo magwala-ndini (The cattle depart/leave/go away you cowards/ There goes the cattle, you cowards)

Naziya zemuka magwala-ndini (Those yonder; they depart, you cowards)

Inkomana zemuka na? zemuka magwala-ndini(small beasts go away? (they) go away you fools.)

Ubujaha buphelile na? zemuka hi ha o ho (Is your young manhood over)

Nihlala nemijingathi zemuka e he he (You are left with the carriers. They go away (depart))

Hayi nkomo zemuka na zemuka hi ho (No the cattle go away?, they go away hi ho)

Nilibele namabele, zemuka o ho ho5 ( "You are continually with african corn (Chewa, mawele). In other words "You have eyes only for the foodstuffs". Remember it is the ladies taunting the men for letting the cattle be taken away before their eyes.

Grammar Note

Zemuka : zi representing the inkomo (full form is izinkomo) plus ngoni verb emuka, depart, go away, desert, break allegiance; be absorbed ect. In this case the zemuka inkomo(izinkomo) is the cattle have run away/departed. Take note also of this phenomenon in bantu languages where the subject can follow the verb, so zemuka inkomo can also be inkomo zemuka with the same meaning.

Inkomo: This is one of the rare cases where the ngoni departs from using the full plural form izinkomo/zinkomo to shorten it to inkomo. The singular is inkomo but the plural even though it is spelt the same way is prounounced iinkomo with double i to differentiate from singular inkomo.

Naziya: Those yonder: For this and other ngoni pronouns please visit the link below.

Inkomana: small beast (cow, ox, bull). In this case it is not the singular inkomana but shortened form of izinkomana (small beasts).

Magwala-ndini: you are fools from amagwala, cowards and the singular is igwala.

ubujaha: young manhood, from the noun ijaha, young men.

buphelile: bu is the subject concord representing ubujaha and -phelile is a verb that stands for be completed, be done, be finished, have ended etc. Its present tense stem is phela, end, terminate, come to an end.

Nilibele: Ni (you plural) + libele (continually)

Namabele: na (with) (a)mabele african corn but amabele is also breasts depending on context.

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