01 March 2005


Nkoe ke phoofolo
E maroborobo;
Ha e bona motho
E ea mo tlolella -- e se mo tlolelletse!

Ea qaqapolotsa
Letlalo la hlooho,
Motho ke bohloko,
A be se a pota...
A batla motoho,
Motoho oa matekoane.

See if you can translate the words in red into English, French or Swahili. I'll symbolically reward the "winner" with two Gmail accounts. How about that?


Anonymous said...

I am a Gikuyu and Swahili speaker but this one is impossible!

Makes no sense to me, but has something to do with:

An animal….when it sees a person, it jumps

When a person feels pain…she goes around…..she wants food…

Rethabile said...

Wow, that is pretty good! That deserves a gmail account. Where email address) shall I send the invitation?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, you can send the gmail invite to malaika_ny AT yahoo.com

Ke a leboha!

But please, you have to give us a translation. I'm dying to know what it means.

Rethabile said...

The tiger,
The tiger is an animal
With stripes;
When it spots a person
It jumps them -- as it does
Even as we speak!

It takes the skin
Off the head,
Due to the pain,
The victim goes berserk...
And asks for porridge,
Cannabis porridge.

nafi said...

Hi, rethabile. I was listening to a tape that my wife's company uses to teach Sesotho.

Now, I know what pap is in Sesotho, but this tape used (and I didn't see the word, so sorry for spelling) "moparatitane" instead of "motoho".

Now a good Sotho friend pulled a disgusted face, and said that he wouldn't eat that, because it reminds him of a woman's panties!

But he couldn't tell me what could be the meaning of the word. Or its origins.

Any ideas?

Rethabile said...

I can't say I know what "Moparatitane" would mean. Unless it were "moaparathetana" (spelling, as you said).

"Thetana" is in effect a young girl's traditional skirt. It is worn around the waist and is made of patterned beads.

The first part of the word is "moapara-" or "wearer of-". For example a Mosotho calls him/herself moaparakobo, "kobo" being a blanket.

Moapathethana means "skirt wearer," if you will.

How's things down there in Bloemfontein?

Mooa Khotla said...


Your translation is incorrect. Nkoe is a leopard not a tiger. It has spots not stripes. Maroboko is spots.

Rethabile said...

Mooa Khotla,
Are you sure? For me a leopard is "lengau" and a tiger "nkoe."

Ntsetselane, ngoana a bua Sekhooa, ngoana a bua Senyesemane! said...

Mo-oa-khotla, Rethabile is right. A leopard is "lengau" and a tiger is "nkoe" (e rolo eabo Mphaphathi).

Mopherathethana is a form of pap whose thickness is somewhere between pap and porridge. It was cooked mostly in times of drought to save flour by making the pap just a little less thick.

Peter Fiee said...

Tigers do not exist in Africa. It's therefore unlikely that our ancestors would have encountered tigers.

Mooa Khotla o nepile. Nkoe is a leopard. Lengau is a cheetah. Both animals, though spotted, would have been distinct enough for our ancestors to tell them apart. The poem describes the sneaky behaviour of a leopard (they usually lurk in trees and therefore more likely to pounce on their prey), whereas mangau (cheetahs) were more noted for their speed.

Likhomo, Basotho

Boipelo Ramotse said...

Your translation is also incorrect nkoe is a cheetah not a leopard. A leopard is called lepogo

Peter Fiee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Fiee said...

Ha u re ha kea nepa bopaki ba hao bo hokae? If you're gonna make such an assertion, show us proof. A simple google search for "lepogo" returns results in Northern Sotho. This blog is primarily focused on Southern Sotho, i.e Sesotho. While 'lepogo' might have at some point in the past been part of the Sesotho lexicon, it has largely disappeared from common use.

Furthermore, a Northern Sotho Wikipedia search for Lepogo returns Cheetah, not leopard as you assert. See this wiki page

This link, however redirects to a list of southern african animals, their scientific names, as well as their colloquial Afrikaans and Sesotho names. You'll note that Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) is non-ambiguously referred to as Lengau. The same information is reiterated on this page, a multilingual blog on South African animals. Therein Cheetah = Lengau, Leopard = Nkwe (SA orthography).

Thus, it would appear that you are wrong on both counts. It would have behooved you to at least show evidence before attempting to refute my statements.