LYRICS OF KHONA by MAFIKIZOLO featuring UHURU, AND ITS LITERARY MEANING – A NIGERIAN’S PERSPECTIVE by Prince Adewale Oreshade

The first phenomenon one has to address in this song is the Language. The song was written and sung in the Zulu Language. And in some part of the song; it did flirt with other local Languages. Some Zulus from a province called Mpumalanga are influenced by an inland country called Swaziland, so they tend to mix their vowels. It has a feel of English too – Rose and Mama. But then, Mama is one of those words that its meaning is universal. Mama means Mother in almost all languages. And Zulu is not an exception.

To understand this song – Khona, one has to understand the personal lives of the members of the Mafikizolo Band, and Uhuru also. The members of Mafikizolo are Theo Kgosinkwe, Nhlanhla Nciza, and Tebogo Madingoane. And the genre of music this group make is called Kwaito. Their kind of song can be called Afro-Pop. It has a peculiar Angolian-Swahili feel too. Quite eccentric, at least, to we non-South Africans.

Khona is one of the tracks in their February (2013) released album titled Reunited. Being their first album since they went solo in 2008. From the lyrics of the song one will see that Reunited is not just the persons reuniting but a unification of their experiences in sonorous-lines. Khona is a sample of one of the tracks that unites their sad experiences.

Before one goes into their personal experiences, it is pertinent to understand or have an idea what Khona means. Khona means ‘there’ or ‘at that place’. So the song is more of a dialogue-type song. So for every persons mentioned in the song; Khona is a rhetorical call to them to ‘come back. So all of them that are ‘there’, at that ‘other side’ or ‘that place’ should come back. Its kind of a sad plea. Khona being an euphemism for death’s hades and cracks of a broken heart. Even Theo’s dance of throwing his arms and thighs in the forward and then backward direction portrays the come-back-Khona message.

So the question arises, who are these people the Mafikizolo sang this song for? One of the Trio of Mafikizolo is Tebogo Madingoane. Amidst the peak of their success in 2004, on the 14th of February to be precise; Tebogo, one of the male singers was shot after an argument got heated with another driver in traffic. His death touched the spines of the Mafikizolo and it has always been in their hearts since then.

Nhlanhla Nciza, the only lady of the Trio also had her share of misfortune when she lost her 5 year old daughter, Zinathi, in a car accident in December, 2009. Her death and request to come back was portrayed at the end of the music video where the smoke from the ghastly car which was suppose to disperse in the air, was seen reverting back into the car from the car’s windscreen. The pains of a bereaved mum was also evident in her choice of attires and gestures. The first verse of the song was for Tebogo and the second was for her daughter. The third one was for Theo’s Rose and the fourth was for Uhuru’s Mum.

From the lyrics, it is evident that Theo Kgosinkwe lost his love; Rose, who is either his sister, daughter or lover. His call for Sesi Rose to come back was deep and passionate. Sitting on a black horse which is known to represent strength and power is a show of his graphic toast to Rose. Perhaps, those are the qualities that were missing in Theo hitherto. Hence, his persistent call and show. Like a Knight riding back from a war he was victorious.

It is evident from the lyrics that Uhuru who is not a member of the Mafikizolo also had a piece of the sad cake; his mother. With the name Uhuru, what readily comes to mind is the Lesotho 70′s and 80′s band. Or better still, the South American Black Uhuru Band. Or perhaps, the Kenyan’s Uhuru Kenyatta. Uhuru however, is a Swahilian word that means Freedom. Whether this Uhuru is an offshoot of the Black Jesus’ Uhuru is yet unknown. But one thing is clear, this Uhuru sings. And he does it well. Singing is the only thing he would do if he wasn’t singing – that wasn’t a typo. His dramatic performance and passion about his demised Mum was Captivating. It got me replaying the song over and over.

The song Khona is a sad love song but one with a beam of optimistic hopelessness. We’ve all lost something. And we all miss something. For all of us that have lost and missed something, and wish it to come back; this song is for us. Khona to our demised friends and family. Khona to our broken hearts. Khona to those strangers that gave us a good smile whilst walking past. Khona to those lost precious times. Albeit a lost call, its still uplifting to yearn for them. Perhaps, just perhaps, we may have them back. Maybe not in person; they always can reincarnate in others.

As a Nigerian, the nostalgia of the utopia that used to exist makes us listen, dance and sing-along to Khona. Its a call for our basic human rights. A call for peace, unity and progress. A call to Glory!

KHONA: The Zulu Lyrics.

Za izaka su, Za izakasu *27 times at the background most times*

Ewu eee Ewu eee!

Khor!

Khona *4 times*

Khona! *17 times at the background of the first verse below*

Uthando lwami lakuphi na?
cela ulibuyisele
Lapho ulithathe
Ngiyalifuna
Lapho liphuma
Ngiyalifun
Libuyisele, sele

Uthando lwami likuphi na?
Cela ulibuyisele
Lapho ulithathe
Lapho liphuma
Ngiyalifuna
Libuyisele eh,eh,eh

Za izaka su, Za izakasu *8 times*

Sesi ya rose Sesi
Ulise
Thanlo lwami, yee yeyeye
Libuyisele
Lapho ulithathe
Ngiyalifuna
Lapho liphuma
Libuyisele
Sele sele ye ye ye ye eee

Sele sele ye *twice*

Khona *9 times*

Za izaka su, Za izakasu *16 times*

Khor!

Khona! *18 times*

Mama mama ma
Mama ma
Mama mama mam ela mama
Mama mama mam ela mama

Eeee ila mama e!

Za izaka su, Za izakasu *16 times*

Khona *18 times*

Sesi! Sesi Sesi a Se

Jalabringo

Se se
Uthando lwami lakuphi na?
cela ulibuyisele
Lapho ulithathe
Ngiyalifuna
Lapho liphuma
Ngiyalifun
Libuyisele, sele

Za izaka su, Za izakasu *16 times*

Sesi ya rose Sesi
Ulise
Thanlo lwami, yee yeyeye
Libuyisele
Lapho ulithathe
Ngiyalifuna
Lapho liphuma
Libuyisele

Za izaka su, Za izakasu *16 times*

Sele
Lapho ulithathe
Ngiyalifuna
Libuyisele

Za izaka su, Za izakasu *16 times*

In singing this song, it should be noted that some alphabets in the Zulu words are silent. The above being the exact words, one has to pronounce theirs in a manner that soothes their local tongues.

Getting the zulu rendition wasn’t as hard as interpreting it. Thanks to my South African Zulu friends; Amanda Toetsie Mkhonza and Ofentse Kgonego Motlhasedi. Amanda was of the view that most of the catchy phrases don’t have actual zulu meanings. They were just used for sonorous leverages. But they can pass as exclamatory expressions. Examples are ‘Ewu e, za izakasu and the continuous melodious eeeee sounds.

She said Uthando is a noun that means Love. And saying I Love You in Zulu is Ngiyakuthanda. That said, the crux of all the verses is that of Nostalgia but with different people as subjects. The first being Tebogo. Second one for Zinathi. Third for Rose and fourth for Uhuru’s mother.

NOTE: (Beyond The Lyrics) – The Gay Dancers In The Khona Video.

Now that we understand what Khona means and what it relates to. And we’ve been able to decipher that Theo’s dance of throwing his fist forward and backward was not just a theatrical dance step, but a further call for the return of what they sang about.

In the video, there were different classes of dancers. There were the elderly women-the trio, the elderly man, the young guys in African attires-the trio, a lady, the beat makers and of course the gay guys-the four of them.

They were predominant in the video. From the angelic and celestial white masked attire, to their black and gold sparkling attire; they danced all the way. Still on with our Khona theme; since gold is gotten from the earth and white from the heavens, could it be that Mafikizolo were actually saying something.

Could it be that they were telling us that, whether their loved ones are deep down in the dark precious earth or up in the sparkling white heavens; they should come back to them? And maybe that’s why the four kept lying down whilst dancing and doing the return-twist with their hands. To mean that, whether in the earth below, or heavens above, they should come back.

Furthermore, could it be that, the use of the four gays as dancers, is a call for the acceptability of the gay people? After all, they existed in the past and they co-existed with the people peacefully. That we should end the violence against gays and just let them be. That we should stop standing behind the shadows of religious commands to hate another individual. That we should love. Love indiscriminately. That we should love all.

All these cant be said to be just a coincidence. The Art in Khona’s video was talking to us. Beyond the lyrics, were embedded, untold yearns…

KHONA: The Meaning.

Where is my love?
Please return it
To where you found it.
I want it to return
To me from that place

Bring it back,
bring it back,
I want it back.

I hope you enjoy the song. Now you can listen and enjoy as I have…

Dancers

Dancers

8 Comments

Thank you very much for this insightful piece on this song that I have fallen so so in love with and cannot live a day without.

You’re welcome

Now I don’t know how and where you got this insight into the song, but I just love your piece as much as the song. The imagery of your explanation is as graphic as the depth of the song which you are bringing to greater life.

NICE!

Awww, thank you very much. Everyone loves the song. The article is a result of Love…

I can hear your heart in this piece. Thank you.

It tells the stories of many hearts. Thanks a lot…

I love this work of yours.
Powerful emotions were overflowing when I was reading it.

Just one questions.
Those guys,how did you know they where gay?

Well, the dance moves and they way they looked

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