I am really trying hard to get ‘clicking’ in order to communicate in isiXhosa. Enunciating X and C words is proving to be somewhat challenging. The Q words on the other hand are easier to deal with. I suppose this could be explained by the fact that we actually have Q in the Sesotho alphabet — C and X do not exist; “nxa!” in all good conscience cannot be used to contradict my assertion.

With the above said, may I quickly point out that we don’t necessarily have a tide of ‘Q words’, though Q exists in the Sesotho alphabet. I know I could be wrong, but being innately in love with knowing (or speaking from a relatively infallible position) I decided to embark on a little pet project to verify my “facts”. In this project of mine, I tried to find Q words that were not associated with mountains, rivers or other types of landmarks e.g. Senqu, Qiloane, Qhobosheane, Qoqolosing, etc. Then moved on to consider words that could possibly be classified as mundane like: moqoqo (conversation), qabola (to incite laughter), qhibiliha (to melt), seqha (bow or sling –if we make technical accuracy expendable), seqhaqhabola (sour soft porridge). I then progressed to those seriously “cool” words that hardly come in everyday conversation.

An example of a “cool” word that came my path is moqasea. Moqasea is a Sesotho synonym for ‘khethollo‘ (discrimination). Observe how I have decided to go the synonym route, so as to avoid nuances that may exist between the words discrimination and prejudice. This, of course, is intentional and self-serving! First, it allows me to retain my “relative infallible” position. Second, and most importantly, it helps me to (hopefully) hype up the word, which I regard as cool –be it only because it got my poetic juices flowing, see below:

Ka terapola, ka lelera ‘na nthoana batho!
Ke ne ke batlana le makhulo a matala,
Ke batlana le liliba tse sa psheng.
Ka teana le moqasea, ka makala:
Mofuta oa feela oa tšoana le qoba la koae!1

‘Nete ea ba sebabetsane ho ‘na.
Pelo ea hlonama, ea hopola lihlaba tsa Thesele.
Ea re e khutla mafisa, bofifi ba apoha.
Ha luma mantsoe a nkhere, Mohlomi: “pelo ke setlhare”!
Ha hlaka hore ho nena moqasea e le kannete ke pheko.

Ka hona, ke etsa thapeli ke re:
“Ha re neneng moqasea, khotso e rene;
Hoba Seokamela ke ‘Mopi oa batho bohle”

A contextualised translation of the above poem is as follows:

I travelled, and wandered with naivety!
I was in search of greener pastures,
And wells that never go dry.
Instead, I met prejudice and got astounded:
My own humanity was precariously in doubt! 2

The truth became bitter.
My heart, depressed, yearned for Moshoeshoe’s land.
But as it lifted, the dark was illuminated.
Words of the great sage, Mohlomi echoed: “The heart is medicinal”!
Sincere hatred for prejudice was and is a cure.

For this reason, I appeal to all:
“Let’s truly despise prejudice, so peace may reign;
For we are all beings of one Creator!”

  1. “Mofuta ha o nkhoe ka nko e se qoba la koae” — is an old adage that suggests you cannot treat a foreigner like a pitch of snuff, which you can sniff to determine its quality
  2. Worded to invoke Judith Butler’s idea of precarity, where some lives may be deemed more precious than others: if, for example, one were to consider the reality where the humanity of foreigners or outsiders can be reduced to a point of it being “ungrievable”. In my mind, this invocation fits well with the Sesotho adage -see above footnote- that was initially used to capture the idea.

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