This morning I am torn between two word routes to follow: ukuCwiya or Dábu
The first has to do with muthi killings and analysis. The second word route has to do with tearing, cracking & all metaphorical aspects thereof. Like rhegnumi in Greek.
Dábu or Cwiya? Cwiya is a verb root, meaning ‘cut off small pieces; cut off portions for purposes of witchcraft, as done by an umthakathi from a victim’. Cwiya also means ‘steal in small quantities (as food from a bulk or cloth from a bale, so that the loss is unnoticed)’. Finally, which is a very interesting metaphorical leap for me, Cwiya means ‘analyse (chemically, grammatically, etc.)’.
The Noun, isiCwiyo, means ‘a small choice piece, tidbit, such as is cut off a slaughtered beast; portion cut for muthi from a victim or ‘a stolen piece’. But there isn’t any reference to the ‘chemical or grammatical analysis’ aspect of the verb’s meaning.
The second word route is that of the ideophone Dábu. Knowing how versatile the izenzukuthi (ideophones) can be, let’s follow it to its source. Dábu is an ideophone denoting ‘tearing, cracking’. When it is umdabu (only ever used in the singular), it means ‘origin’. Umdabu is also the name the izinyanga give to the intolwane plant, Elephantorhiza Burchelii, a dwarf Mimosa, used as an emetic. Then there are the verbs – Dabuka and Dabula. And 9 more major derivatives! This is a rich word route indeed. I’ll get back to it later.
For more detail on some of these issues, see my occultzulu blog here.