South Africa is a country of huge diversity, with many ethnic groups, tribes and communities. Having eleven official languages and many more dialects, there are literally hundreds of ways for people to greet one another in South Africa.
One of the softest and prettiest of all the African languages is Shangaan. The Shangaan/Tsonga people of South Africa live mainly in the Mpumalanga province, in which Sabi Sabi is situated, as well as in the Northern provinces. They are our closest neighbours with many community areas bordering the game reserve area, and at least 80% of our staff hail from these nearby communities.
Shangaan has been beautifully woven by our staff into their daily conversation with far spread visitors to our lodges, whatever their home language. From the gentle avexeni (av-sheyn – which means “The sun is rising”) greeting while drinking coffee prior to the dawn safari, to the heartfelt sala kahle (pronounced suh-luh guh-shleh and meaning “Stay well”) on departure after your stay, the local lingo is an important part of the safari experience.
In each of our luxury suites a list of useful everyday expressions is available as an easy guide – written in traditional Shangaan with the phonetic pronunciation. Our Shangaan staff simply beam when guests attempt to engage them using the local vernacular. A friendly bond is immediately created and you will often hear our staff smilingly tutoring their guests with a softly spoken lesson.
Some of the most commonly used greetings are listed hereunder:
Welcome! How are you?
– 1 Person: Kunjani (Goon-jaa-nee)
– More than 1: Minjani (Min-jaa-nee)
Ndzi Kombela (Nzee Kom-beh-la)
Good Bye, Stay Well
– 1 person: Vamba Kahle (Fum-buh Guh-shleh)
– More than 1: Sala Kahle (Suh-luh Guh-shleh)
There are many aspects of life at Sabi Sabi which are influenced not only by the local language, but also by their interesting customs and heritage and the Shangaan culture has become part and parcel of daily life on the reserve. Part of our commitment to supporting the community is to outsource entertainment by way of traditional tribal dancing or the sounds of a beautifully orchestrated choir – these local singers and dancers provide joyful performances to the delight of their guests.
Sabi Sabi also offers guests the opportunity of experiencing an authentic cultural tour of the local villages. These tours are operated by our community liaison – Lodrick Manyathele – who offers an insight into the daily lifestyle of the local community.
Most Sabi Sabi guests confess to feeling quite captivated by the African warmth and hospitality they are treated to at every visit. And when it’s time to say goodbye there are many hugs, often tears, but there is always a heartfelt inkomu (in-kom-ooh) which means ‘thank you’.
Meet the affable Hendry Zulu – a well-entrenched and valued member of our very capable Shangaan tracking team at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge. Hendry has an immense presence and one does not easily forget the personality that he is. Hailing from one of our neighbouring communities, he is superbly adept and knowledgeable about the African bushveld and is an expert in his field.