Holy Happy-Sweat-Bees, Batman…Go a Fisa Thata!

It is insanely hot here in the capital of South Africa. No, really. I’m pretty sure a lot of us are losing our minds under this sun!

We really need some rain right now. Meanwhile my friends in America’s Carolinas and elsewhere are underwater with some kind of thousand year storm.

Oy! This planet is a mess!

Here’s a photo of a cool little drum to offset the heat. It was given to me today by one of my buddies over at Silver Oaks Shopping Center, as a belated birthday present. It is from Nigeria, and the top is made of goat skin. This guy has next to nothing and still wants to give me a gift. The generosity of people here just rips me up some days.

Raymond and his birthday gift to me.
Raymond and his birthday gift to me.

In honor of Raymond, who gave me the drum, I’m going to teach you something in his language today, as well as a few other languages.

Ready? Let’s go…

Today I’m going to teach you how to say “It’s hot as balls!” in five African languages.

No I’m not. C’mon. Geez. This is a PG-13 website.

How about I just show you how to talk about hot weather in five African languages. Why five? Why not eleven since there are eleven official in South Africa? Geez. I’m not Wonder Woman, even though Kurt wishes I had the outfit. It’s because I only know how to talk about weather in five languages so far. I could look up more, and sound all ooh, and aah, but hey, I’m really proud to know these ones, and honestly it’s pretty fun to switch when I learn that the person I’m speaking with is of one of these languages.

travel South Africa language

Note #1: Please keep in mind that I’m an American and native English speaker, so my pronunciation does not do each of these beautiful languages justice. But so far, I have very few complaints for trying.

Note #2:  “Eish!” is a common complaint word to start a sentence used here in South Africa. Non-South Africans from other African countries use it freely as well (at least, the ones who are teaching me 😉 ).  There are many ways of saying “Eish!” so I will try to entertain you with a few of the ways I have heard it and use it.

Note #3: These are taught to me, and spelled to me, by people who live around Pretoria, who grew up with each of these languages, respectively. I have been told there are other ways to say these things, and if I try to look up most of what I’m taught by locals, I get literal translations that usually mean something like burning, or fire. I think burning and fire make a lot of sense for the weather lately. When I try to confirm with other locals, I usually just get an alternative way of saying it, which makes it even more difficult to learn. But most of the time, I get a reply to whatever I’m saying, even if my pronunciation and usage is slightly off.

Note#4: Sometimes I throw in a “ne!?” which basically means “isn’t it?” (Those familiar with Japanese will recognize how it is used much like “desu ne!?”)

And ooh it is so much fun!

Okay, ready!? Let’s go.


First, the three from South Africa…

Setswana: Eish! Go a fisa thata!

isiZulu: Eish! oya shisa kulu!

isiTsonga/Shangaan: Eish! ka hisa ngopfu

Now for the non-South African languages I’m learning:

Shona (one of the languages from Zimbabwe):
Eish! kuri kupisa, ne!?

And from the language of my buddy who gave me the cool drum…

Yoruba (one of the languages from Nigeria): 

Oti gbono gan. {or, more intensely} Oti gbono ju!


Share your knowledge of “It’s too hot!” in another language in the comments below. Or, if one of the above languages is your native tongue, let me know how I did!

Happy Tuesday from Tshwane, folks!

May your weather be what your crops need.

Love, MarLa

travel South Africa Pretoria capital
Tshwane (pka Pretoria) South Africa

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