26 April 2011

Tsumo - Shumo

Maronda asiri ako

Wounds other than yours stink.

Every person is capable of seeing other people's defects but not everyone sees his own. This proverb is quoted against somebody who is reluctant to admit his mistakes.

-- Shona Proverb
From Tsumo - Shumo by Mordikai A. Hamutyinei and Albert B. Plangger

Much like "The pot calling the kettle black" in English.

19 April 2011

Tsumo - Shumo

wechitatu muzvinaguhwa

Two are two; a third party means gossip.

This proverb points out the disadvantage of having more than one close friend or several wives.

-- Shona Proverb
From Tsumo - Shumo by Mordikai A. Hamutyinei and Albert B. Plangger

Similar to "Two's company, three's a crowd" in English.

14 April 2011

Who's Your Father-in-Law? Your Mother-in-Law?

If you are a man, your father-in-law is addressed as tezvara. As you might expect, if you've been following this series on Shona family relations, tezvara also refers to any male member of the bride's direct family.

If you are a woman, your father-in-law is addressed as tezvara, however your husband's brothers are addressed as muramu or baba mukuru (if older than your husband).

If you are a man, your mother-in-law is addressed as vambuya. (See Who's Your Grandmother?) You would also address the wives of your wife's brothers by this title.

If you are a woman, your mother-in-law is addressed as vamwene. The wives of your husband's brothers are also addressed as vamwene.

So with just one spouse, you can have numerous fathers-in-law, vatezvara, and numerous mothers-in-law, vamwene. Settle back and enjoy your growing family.

12 April 2011

Tsumo - Shumo

Chawawana idya nehama
mutorwa ane hanganwa

Whatever you have secured eat with relatives; a stranger forgets.

-- Shona Proverb
From Tsumo - Shumo by Mordikai A. Hamutyinei and Albert B. Plangger

Equivalent to the English saying, "Blood is thicker than water."

07 April 2011

Who's Your Grandmother?

While beginning to learn chiShona, my family and another family also studying chiShona went to get language practice at Sesame in Gokwe Province where a clinic and school were being rebuilt after the war for independence. We were young, late 20's early 30's, with small children. The wives were struggling to get a cooking fire going so they could cook supper on a steel drum lid when one of the workers came by and greeted them, "Masikati* vambuya."

The young women were a bit upset. "We're not that old," they responded. "We don't have grandchildren. These are our children."

The worker tried to explain that he hadn't called them grandmothers, he had used a term of respect. And so a new insight into Shona language and culture was learned.

The mothers of both your mother and your father are addressed as ambuya. Your grandmother is ambuya. She addresses you as muzukuru, just as your sekuru does.

When my wife and our friend heard vambuya in the greeting, they understood it to be the plural of ambuya. For words referring to people the plural is represented by va-. They understood the worker to be calling them grandmothers.

However, there is another relationship for which vambuya is used. It is the title bestowed upon one's mother-in-law by a man. By extension, it is also applied to the wives of his wife's brothers.

In the story above, the greeting was intended to welcome the young women by showing them the respect reserved for sisters-in-law. They were not being called old. They were being accepted into the community.

*Masikati is the standard afternoon greeting.

(Part of the confusion in hearing the difference between ambuya and vambuya is due to the sound of the Shona v. It is not explosive like the English v. It is much softer and slightly implosive. The explosive v sound is written vh in Shona. There is also a subtle tonal distinction between the two words. Ambuya is low-high-low whereas vambuya is high-low-low. Some dialects essentially drop the soft v in vambuya. For the ear unacquainted with these subtleties, these distinctions are virtually undetectable.)

05 April 2011

Tsumo - Shumo

Ane mombe yake
anoziva makumiro ayo

The owner of an ox knows how it bellows.

Long acquaintance with a difficult character will make his peculiarities known.

-- Shona Proverb
From Tsumo - Shumo by Mordikai A. Hamutyinei and Albert B. Plangger

02 April 2011

vaFundisi ne vaTungamiri ve maKereki

Local pastors (vafundisi) and graduates of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe visiting after attending a graduation ceremony.

Church leaders (vatungamiri ve makereki) visiting and congratulating a new BTSZ graduate (right) after the ceremony for a new graduating class.