One of my activities in my community is a club, which the students named "Club Unstoppable." The students in the group are in Forms 1 and 2 (the American equivalent of 8th and 9th grade), and range in age from 13 to 18. They are primarily girls, but we do have a few boys who join us on occasion. The students' first language is SiSwati, and it is not until high school that they begin to learn English in earnest. Below, you'll find short introductions of the students that they wrote (I've added some notes to explain some of their references). They've also included short Siswati lessons for you:
• My name is Wendy Camp. I live at Siphocosini. I do my education at Siphocosini High School. My favorite food is emasi (note: emasi is sour milk – kind of like a combination between cottage cheese and yogurt), and my favorite sport is netball (note: similar to basketball). I stay with my parents and two siblings. I was born in 23 May 1997. I was born at Mbabane Government hospital. I spend my time with my friends by playing and reading newspapers. I want to go to university, and when I finish school I want to be a nurse. My language, SiSwati, is very interesting. To ask someone where they are going, you say “Uyaphi?” To ask someone what their name is you ask, “Ungubani ligama lakho?” Hello is “Sawubona.”
• My name is Lindokuhle Kunene. I was born by a coloured (note: She's saying that her mother is “coloured.” In Swaziland, the term coloured is used to describe someone who has one black parent and one white parent; it is not considered a “bad” label, and it was very difficult for me, as an American, to get used to). I was born at Mbabane Hospital in the year 2000. I stay with my mom, dad and siblings. I have one sister and four brothers – one of them is 9 months old, and the others have completed school. My favorite Swazi food is called tindlubu (jugo beans). I really love wearing my Swazi traditional clothes. I love creating my own poems during my spare time and I call myself the queen of poetry. When I grow up I want to be a poet. When I finish school I want to study chemical engineering, because times are tough so I can not rely on poetry for the rest of my life. Here is a poem that I wrote, I hope you enjoy it:
◦ There will be a day where
all the terrible things happening
around us shall stop. The day where
instead of hurting each other we
will help each other. Instead of
upsetting each other we will cuddle each other.
If we can help each other
only if we can do that, if
we can help each other, only
then we help our beloved
country, the day where all the
nation shall stand up as a nation united
• My name is Nonduduzo Khumalo. My favorite Swazi food is Sinkhwa Sembila (note: maize bread – it's very similar to corn bread). I stay in Siphocosini, which is situated near Mbabane, with my parents, four brothers and one sister-in-law and cousins. I was born on the 7th February in 1999. During my spare time I like to read books and also watch t.v., but mostly I like reading fairy tales. In the future, I would like to go to university and to be a nurse or a lawyer. I also want to help my community. I hope to see you all someday.
• My name is Lungile Camp. My favorite Swazi food is incwacwa (note: sour porridge; it is kind of like grits, except it is fermented and sugar is usually added). I stay in Siphocosini with my parents, and I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters. I was born April 14, 1997 in Manzizni. I spend time by reading books or playing and watching television. I want to go to university someday, and when I finish I want to be a police officer or an accountant in a bank. I also wish to go to America. I have three sisters and two brothers.
• My name is Temaswati Dlamini. My favorite foods are fish pie and chicken stew. I stay at Siphocosini near the river called Sithobela. I stay with my mother and father and two brothers. I was born on the 17th of March 1998. I have two brothers and one sister. I spend most of my free time studying and I refresh by listening to music. When I finish school I want to be a doctor, I would like to go to university in Russia (note: there are no medical school in Swaziland, so if you want to be a doctor you must go abroad – which is financially very difficult for most Swazis). My favorite music is R&B and Hip Hop. Nelson Mandela and Jennifer Lopez are my role models. My best artists are Beyonce, Nicky Menaje, Chris Brown and Usher. I love my culture very much. One cultural celebration is called “Incwala.”
• My name is Sebenele Kunene. I'm 14 years old. I live in Sithobela near Siphocosini. I was born in Makayane in Swaziland. I stay with my family. My favorite Swazi food in incwacwa (sour porridge). I like bright colours such as pink, red, white, orange, etc.. I like fish and chips (note: chips are french fries) and I like wearing pants (note: Culturally, women are supposed to wear long skirts; while it's not against the law for women to wear pants, it is frowned upon. This is changing among young women and professional women, particularly in the cities, but in the rural areas it's still unusual to see women in pants. During the lead up to Incwala, a cultural event, a group of men travels through the country and will berate women and charge them fines if they are found wearing pants, nail polish, or if they are married and do not have have their hair covered). I was born on 9 February 1999. My mother is Thuli Mnisi and my father is Jeremiah Kunene. I have one sister and two brothers. I am the last born in my family. I spend my free time hanging out with friends. I like singing and acting. I want to go to university at limokwing or William Pitcher College to get a Bachelor of Science degree.
• My name is Happiness Zwane. My favorite Swazi food is umbhidvo (note: sometimes called blackjack, it is a type of green leaf vegetable, like spinach, that grows wild. It is stewed and a little oil and seasoning are added). I also like to watch and do dancing. I stay at Mantabeni (Mhlane). I stay with my grandmother and younger brother. I was born in Mbabane government hospital. I have one brother and one sister. I spend my time by reading a lot of books. I want to go to university after high school and become a police officer. I want to tell you more about my language. In SiSwati, when you are greeting a person you say, “Sawubona. Unjani?” (Hello. How are you?) and the person will answer “”Yebo, Ngiyaphila.” (yes, I am fine). In Swaziland there are a lot of sayings, one of them is “kubona kanye kubona kabili,” which means “to see you once is to see you twice.”
• My name is Thandukwazi Makhanya. My favorite food is Sinkhwa Sembila. I stay at Sithobela with my mother and three siblings (two brothers and one sister). I was born on the 20th September 1995 in Mbabane government hospital. I spend my spare time reading magazines and hanging out with my friends. I would like to be a doctor when I finish school. Here are some phrases in SiSwati: “Sawubona” Hello, “Uyaphi?” Where are you going?, “Uhlalaphi?” Where do you stay?, “Baphi batali bakho?” Where are your parents? “Uhlala nabani?” Who do you stay with?
• My name is Ndalenhle Dlamini. My favorite food is maize (note: Maize is basically corn, but with a slightly starchier and milder flavor; maize is the staple food of Swaziland and is the basis of most people's diets – it is used to make porridge, both thick (for eating) and thin (for drinking), bread, and more. Pretty much every homestead grows their own maize, which they can dry and grind into maize meal to make various dishes; for the poorest families, maize meal is likely all they have to eat. Swazis also like to eat maize roasted on a fire as a snack, and all over the country it is common to see people with small fires on the side of the road, roasting and selling ears for approximately E3.00 - approx. 40 cents American). I stay at Siphocosini, with my father, mother and brother. I was born in Manzini. I spend most of my time concentrating on books. When I grow up I want to work as a judge. I want to go to Ngwane College.
• My name is Zandile Nhleko. My favorite food is noodles. I stay at Sigangeni, rural area, with my mother and one sister. I was born on 7th December 1997 in Mbabane government hospital. I spend my free time reading books of different stories. I want to go to university to become an accountant. My hobbies are playing netball and table tennis.
• My name is Nawazi Simelane. I am 16 years old. My favorite Swazi food is incwacwa (sour porridge). I stay at Siphocosini (Kasipete) with my mother. I was born in 1996 in Mbabane, and I have two brothers and one sister. I spend my time singing worship songs and praise the Lord. I would like to go to university and to be a nurse after school.
• My name is Khayalethu Mthombi. I live at Siphocosini. I was born 9th September 1999. My favorite food is umncebal (billtong) (note: dried beef). I stay with my mother. I have two sisters and one brother – they are all older than me. I love to spend my time reading books. I want to go to university to be a teacher after school.