Sunday, 16 February 2014

IsiZulu – Easy Zulu?

Our course book
Thursday was a busy day. After lectures, supervision of students and a long meeting with the Research and Higher Degrees Committee, I rushed home to let the dog out. And then I rushed back to the Old Main Building, room 114, where the Basic isiZulu course was going to start 17h00. It was not a good idea to run when the temperature was +35 degrees centigrade and the lecture room is without air conditioner or a fan. To make it worse the class didn’t start on time. So all my rushing was in vain. Why do I never learn?

The class had met already the previous week but I could not attend because I never got information about the venue. But it’s OK. Kulungile – as we say in isiZulu! I believe I will catch up with the rest.

The pedagogy is interesting. I am not used to reading sentences in chorus. And I am especially NOT used to teachers laughing out loud (I am not kidding) when students make mistakes. As a Swedish person I get offended. (We do that easily in Sweden! In Swedish it is called to be “kränkt”. Which means to be insulted or offended. The word is often misused. It is a serious matter when people really get “kränkt” and one should not to use the word carelessly. It is not fair to people who really get “kränkt”.)

When I looked around I saw that everyone else also laughed out loud. White, black, coloured, Indian etc. People from South Africa, who do not speak isiZulu and people from other African countries – all were laughing! So I started to laugh myself.

The first part of the lecture was a mix between a class and a stand-up-comedy performance, where we all performed. When I analysed the situation I realised that there was a lot of tension that needed to be released.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has decided that all staff needs to take this course if they want promotion. And undergraduate students need a similar course to obtain their degree. The reason I have blogged about before. More than 10 million people have isiZulu as their mother-tongue. There should be an opportunity for people to use their first language at university level. The project is not restricted to KwaZulu-Natal. Other provinces do the same – with their different vernaculars.

So, what did I learn? This, for instance:
A: Ungubani igama lakho? (What is your name?)

B: NginguAnders. (My name is Anders.)

A: Ungubani isibongo sakho? (What is your surname/family name?)

B: Isibongo sami nginguGoranzon. (My surname/family name is Goranzon.)
So, this weekend I have asked as many as possible about their name. Even if I already knew them! Practice makes perfect!

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