The Not-So-Cunning Linguist, and African Song

expat life Pretoria South Africa travel

This morning after dropping Kurt off to catch his carpool, an alert on my phone reminded me that I had forgotten to switch it to Do-Not-Disturb for my peaceful early-morning routine. Curiosity got the better of me, and I peeked at the notification in WhatsApp, to find only an image, from Tendai, one of my favorite baristas at a local coffee shop: expat life Pretoria South Africa travel Tendai is one of three Zimbabwean servers at this coffee shop, and they are all teaching me their language, Shona. But Shona isn’t the only language I’m learning here. It’s strange to be simultaneously learning words and phrases in multiple languages, but the brain really is an amazing computer, especially if it was introduced to more than one language at a young age.

Ke a leboha = Thank you, in Sotho and Tswana

As it is, I’m slower than I used to be, but I’ve managed to memorize greetings and gratitude in Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, and Shona, and a beautiful server at one of the cafes I go to is going to start working on Xhosa with me. I have no delusions that I’ll be fluent in any of these languages, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they know I care to try, no matter how foolish I may sound or look in the process. What matters is that they know I value their language and culture. What matters most is letting them know, in their own language, “Thank you.”

Siyabonga (also Ngiyabonga) = We Thank you / I thank you, in Zulu

I thought it was ironic that Tendai included me in his distribution for the end-of-year thank-you, since he is one of the people here who have really made me smile.

Maita basa = Thank you, in Shona

I’ve already told you that one of my bucket list items for South Africa is to learn the Click Click Song, and after watching last night’s African singers, I’m determined to learn at least one more. Here are a couple videos from a concert we attended last night by the Disciple Choir. I hope it brings you a smile to pass on as well. Love, Marla

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