Xhosa love poem
Umboniso wakho kwisibuko
Ngowona mbongo wam mhle
Kowa, Khawuleza i yanyamala
Ngowokungqibela u "Ndiyakuthanda"
→ Poem the mirror ←
Like her language, she is Xhosa
Love poem (Umbongo uthando), in Xhosa (IsiXhosa, Xosa, Cauzuh, Koosa), is an official language in South Africa with 8 million speakers. This is a translation into the Southern African language of the Xhosas people, and their famous leader Uxhosa. Xhosa is by the number of speakers, the second language in South Africa.
It is a clicks language, which is written with the Latin alphabet. This Bantu language is mostly spoken in the historic region of Transkei (now Eastern Cape Province), with the various dia-lects or local forms of isiXhosa, namely isiThembu, isiBomvana, isiMpondomise, isiMpondo, isiGcaleka, isiNdlambe, isiGaika and isiXesibe. Its phonological system has 3 clicks, borrowed from the khoisan languages.
Xhosa is very close to Zulu - there is intercomprehension between the two languages - but the speakers consider that thez are two different languages. The Xh at the beginning of the name represents a "click" consonant which entered the language through contact with the Hottentot people, for whom these sounds are common.
The Bantu family forms part of the larger Niger-Congo family of African languages of which the three other major families are Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and Khoisan (Greenberg, 1963; Heine and Nurse, 2000b; Williamson and Blench, 2000). In 1994, isiXhosa has obtained the status of an official language, together with eight other Bantu languages spoken in South Africa, namely isiZulu, isiNdebele, Siswati (Swati), Sesotho (Southern Sotho), Sepedi/Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho), Setswana (Tswana), Tshivenda (Venda), and Xitsonga (Tonga). The government has also promoted these languages, through the Department of Arts and Culture.
The Xhosas have the specificity of being an ethnic group today very urbanized. Onehey can be linked, linguistically speaking, with the Bantus Ngonis. They lived on livestock, whose social role was important (matrimonial compensation), but agriculture remained their essential subsistence activity (millet, corn).
Their political system involved the existence of a kingdom, where authority was held by members of the royal lineage, causing frequent clashes between royal clans and ordinary clans. The Xhosas, in spite of Christianization attempts, practiced the fundamental cult of ancestors, which mediated the supposed relations between men and gods. The Xosas have been one of the most disadvantaged and exploited social classes in South Africa, and suffered cruelly the white supremacy during the apartheid. They were once confused with the Kaffirs.