by Simi Gumede
My name is Simile Isizwe Sama Qwabe, Asimbonge Gumede. As you can tell, I am a Zulu girl. But I am incompetent in my mother tongue. Yes, I am what people refer to as a coconut. But I assure you I do not want to be white. My dark skin is beautiful and my dread locks are strong. So how did this happen? I went to a private school my entire life, from grade 00 to matric. I even went to a white creche. My teachers urged my mother to speak to me in English, to push my proficiency to that of my peers and by the time my mother switched back to isiZulu, I had forgotten sentence construction. So, I understand Zulu and speak broken Zulu. Now that I am out of school, completed my degree and officially adulting, I want to be fluent in isiZulu. Speaking predominantly English is not worth the hype. Girls, embrace your home language.
First of all, I am judged for showing off my level of education. Also, people think I think I am better. Like how white people, at times, think they’re better than black people. I am also perceived to look down on my culture, as language and culture go hand in hand. I was always acutely aware that I was black, being the only one in class. I do not think I am white. So, I want to better represent myself as an African. One of my dreams is to write an isiZulu poem.
The world is changing. I learnt this in my politics lectures, Europe and America are not the super powers they used to be. We already know that China is an economic powerhouse. For better or for worse, China is looking at Africa for trade relations.
Furthermore, being successful in life isn’t dictated by your socio-economic class anymore. More and more Africans from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds are making it, and I need to improve my networking potential. I believe I will make more money conducting business in isiZulu and English as opposed to just English.
Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. And girl, I need a man okurrr. I need to be having heart to heart conversations with my future boo. Jokes aside, I want to improve the intimacy of my relationships in general.
Do not think that you are less than because you grew up in black areas. African languages are beautiful and sophisticated. Being proud of your roots, is strength and it is a spiritual resource that we should not forsake in contemporary South Africa.