Some ideas marinate for a long time before reaching the right moment to come forth.
I had written the words down on an envelope, about 9 months ago. That envelope has travelled with me all over, tucked into the depths of whatever bag I was carrying or floating freely in the back of my car.
In the centre of it is an isenzukuthi:
Though the act of exploring that word-root was born in a moment of fury, of making sense of being broken into (ukuqhekeza) and robbed earlier this year, the envelope has soaked up the various molecules of this zeitgeist in which I find myself immersed.
Qheke has two basic meanings:
- ukuvuleka kwento eqinile eyomile
the-act-of-getting-opened of-a-thing that-is-hardened (and) that-is-dry
the-act-of-getting-klaya’d (I’ll explain in a moment)
The first meaning has signified various points of this year for me – the sudden splitting apart of so many taken-for-granted things, the lack of coherence and integrity in the world around us, the feeling that we have all been violated in some way by the different types of order we have put in place to govern ourselves – and it has acted like a koan on which I could meditate in moments where I could see the accepted world breaking open before me, revealing its dried-out bones and desiccated innards.
The second meaning relies on understanding ukuklaya:
to cut through lengthwise
to cut across the veld where there is no pathway
This is what has been realised in what has happened this evening, as the izinkonjane swoop through cloudless skies and ululation and vuvuzelas mark the end of a chapter in our history. The path that we could have taken has not been taken. A new path is being made as you read, through the long grass that has grown up in the recent rains. It is Zibandlela, after all. Kodwa beware – oxamu bayabusa ekweneni (monitor lizards are happiest in the overgrowth).
2440 vs 2261.
I knew by the sudden sound that is so much a part of this continent – ukukikizela. Ululation. A howl of joy repeated to the sky as we were spared yet another of Msholozi’s dodges.
At the heart of the numbers this evening is the fact that the party was almost evenly split down the middle.
uKhongolose uthi qheke. (the Congress goes “qheke”)
Ukuqhekeka means “ukuvuleka noma ukuhlukana phakathi kwento ebihlangane” (the opening out or separation within an object that used to be joined) as well as “ukuvula kakhulu; ukuba sobala kungafihleki” (being very open; being clear with nothing hidden).
I’m not so sure about the last one, to be honest. That remains to be seen – but I’m cautiously optimistic.
The noun for what has occurred is u(lu)qhekeko, which is
isenzo sokuhlukana phakathi; ukuqembuka; ukuhlubuka
the act of internal differentiation; factionalism; betrayal
That escalated very very quickly indeed.
You see, the splitting over the votes today shows a kind of split in loyalty, a turning against the established order. It is also a point of decision, and Mbatha adds these two lovely descriptions of ukuhlubuka:
ukuguquka emazweni akhe umuntu
alteration in a person’s words
ukulahla abantu obukade uhambisana nabo ekwenzeni kwezinto
the act of dumping those with whom you used to cooperate when doing things
And those of you with some sense of the language would have noted that uku-qembuka gives us iqembu, a team or party.
The opposite of all of this is ukubumbana. It is the mutual action required of all the particles shaped into a single clay vessel. If one molecule falters, the vessel cracks. impurities that need to be corrected are removed before firing it in a kiln.
It is my hope that we can find some ubumbano in this moment. And that we shape this new vessel in such a way that it holds true in the kiln. Because there’s nothing worse than a pot that explodes during firing. Collateral damage is severe in those cases.