A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

X is for … Xhosa

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Xhosa

Xhosa (isiXhosa) is the southernmost member of the Bantoid group of the Niger-Congo language family in Africa. It is closely related to Zulu, Swati, and Ndebele. Although mutually intelligible, they are considered to be separate languages for political and cultural reasons.

The Xhosa, formerly called Kaffir or Kafir (Arabic for ‘infidel’), are a cluster of related peoples who have inhabited Eastern Cape Province and Transkei, South Africa, since before the 16th century. They are thought to have migrated to this region along the east coast of Africa and through central Africa. In southern Africa, they came into contact with Khoisan-speaking people. As a result of this contact, the Xhosa people borrowed some Khoisan words along with their pronunciation, for instance, the click sounds of the Khoisan languages.

Xhosa is spoken as a first language by 8.2 million people and by 11 million as a second language in South Africa, mostly in Eastern Cape Province and Transkei. It is also spoken in Botswana and Lesotho. It is one of the eleven official languages of the Republic of South Africa, although the status of Xhosa, like all other African languages in the Republic of South Africa, is complex.

Xhosa Rondavel – Photo by Renette LouwLouw

Fascinating facts about Xhosa

It’s also one of the most recognisable Bantu languages, mainly due to the prominence of its click consonants and its intense use of the letter “x,” used to denote some of the clicks.

Xhosa has its origins in the tribal group descended from the Bantu, who originated in present-day Cameroon and Nigeria and migrated south between 2000 B.C. and 1000 A.D.

The use of Xhosa in education was previously governed by apartheid-era legislation. The role of African language in South African education has since improved, but remains complex and ambiguous.

Grammy Award-winning South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, helped introduce Xhosa to an international audience with her 1957 hit single, “Pata Pata.” It was one of the first mainstream moments for Xhosa. In an interview she gave in 1979, Makeba discussed the experience of sharing her language with the rest of the world. “Everywhere we go, people often ask me, ‘How do you make that noise?’” she said. “It used to offend me because it isn’t a noise. It’s my language.”

Thanks for reading 🙂

army of authors · art · blog tour · book launch · mystery

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Virginia Winters

Painting of Sorrow

by Virginia Winters

Available to preorder now.

Launches May 15th.

Sarah Downing, an art conservator hiding in witness protection, identifies a lost masterpiece by Caravaggio.

History says it burned in WWII Berlin but here it is, on her easel.

Soon she is fighting to save the painting and her own life.

Who has betrayed Sarah—an agent, a friend? Whoever it was, her ex-husband Jimmy is standing on her street, outside her house, waiting.

What Sarah does next sends her from Kingston to Italy to rural Ontario in her desperate attempt to survive, save the Caravaggio and rebuild her life with a new love.

This one is heading straight for my TBR pile!

Here, Virginia tells us how she came to write this story:

I began Painting of Sorrow because I was interested in lost and destroyed paintings of WWII. Searching for paintings that could have been saved but were said not to be, brought me to the Flakturm Friedrichshain in Berlin, an anti-aircraft tower used to house a bomb shelter and a hospital as well as the paintings of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum. More than four hundred paintings and three hundred sculptures were burned, stolen, or destroyed by bombs in the waning days of WWII. Did the Soviets loot the building before it burned? Or were some of the paintings stolen when the Soviet guards were inexplicably removed?

One such painting was called variously Portrait of Fillide or Portrait of a Courtesan, a work by Caravaggio. Client Simon Wolf brings a copy of the painting to be conserved by the firm where Sarah Downing works.

Is it a copy or an original? It’s Sarah job to conserve it but she wants to know the truth about the painting.

Sarah is a painter as well as an art conservator. Her mind reacts to situations, landscapes, and people by seeing paintings in her memory that describe them. Throughout the book, images of paintings also reflect her emotional state and her fears.

Early in the book, the director of the Art Gallery that is housed in the building where she works, frightens Sarah. Her mind brings up a picture of St. Jerome, an almost cadaveric man pictured in a desert, by Da Vinci. The taut skin of his face reveals the skull beneath.

Sarah escapes a killer with her friend Peg. On the way, they stop at a lookout over Mazinaw Lake. Casson painted the iconic Bon Echo Rock there.

Later, approaching the security of a remote cabin in rural Ontario, she sees the building as a painting by A. Y. Jackson, Settler’s Home and somehow felt safer, for the moment.

Her visions become darker and when she finds her new love Simon, beaten by her ex-husband, The Death of Marat by David, a nightmare of a painting intrudes on her thoughts. At the hospital, the controlled chaos of Emergency Room, by Fiona Rae reflects the roiling state of her emotions.

Much later, arriving to Simon’s home, afraid that all chance of a relationship with him has gone, she sees not his house, but Carl Schaefer’s Ontario Farmhouse, dark clouds looming over it, perhaps an omen for her future

I hope interested readers will search out the paintings mentioned in the book to gain a fuller understanding of Sarah and the events that changed her life.

You can find out more about Virginia here.

Find the Painting of Sorrow here.

If you decide to grab a copy, be sure to leave a review for Virginia.

Reviews keep authors writing! 

Thanks for reading.