Good morning, dear Blogger friends, Here I am on a roll and I hope to keep this up!
This week I celebrated an anniversary. I have not posted about this specific project, as I wanted to reach a year first. Well, that was this week.
Over the five years that Thandi has worked for me, we have managed to communicate quite well. Now, with a year of helpful and practical Zulu phrases under my belt, I can really speak to her. She and I actually have conversations when we are traveling together to go and clean The Bunker.
Way back in 2009, when we lived in Khartoum, Sudan (North Africa0, I felt very alieanated when trying to buy a product in the supermarket and especially when I ventured into the markets. I could not understand the Sudanese people and vice versa. Dear Grant got me an Arabic tutor. Twice a week, Amina, who spoke very basic English, came to our apartment and taught me practical Arabic. Within a short time, she and I caught a tuc tuc to the markets. Once there, as I oohed and aahed over the pretty sandals or summer blouses, I'd look at her to enquire about the price. Wisely, she'd shake her head and say: YOU ask. I learnt very quickly! While in that strictly Islamic country, when I was in the streets, I wore an abaya over my own clothes and a hijab covering over my head. It tickled me when I approached a stall owner and enquired the price of tomatoes in his language, that he would reply (in Arabic) hau, I thought you were Sudanese lady!
A year later we moved to a diamond mine in Tanzania. And once again, I was stumped. Almost everyone spoke Swahili. Smartphones and WhatsApp were only just making their appearance then; Apps were not yet heard of. I bought a comprehensive book of phrases and vocabulary. My one house lady, Regina and the askari (gate guard) Michael, spoke good English and helped me with Swahili. All the other staff at the guest house which I managed for Grant, with the exception of Chef Paul, spoke Kiswahili. With the help of Regina, Michael and Paul and also having to actually speak the language, I learnt quickly!
Back in 2006, when I returned alone from West Africa and stayed home in our Free State home, I started rebuilding my garden. Great was my frustration when John, my gardener, misunderstood me. My son, Angus suggested I learn his language, Sesotho. Which I did. I took extra lessons from a teacher friend who gave Sesotho lessons after school. What a treat to be able to actually converse with John while we worked together in the garden. I learnt interesting words from him too, like linonyana sehlahla (birds' nest); serurubele (butterfly); senqanqane (frog ).
It's great fun learning another language!