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Few Ways Tsonga People Greet Each Other

What’s the first thing you do when you see someone in Africa? Greet them! There’s no denying that greetings around the world differ from culture to culture and are sometimes shaped by our religions, customs and beliefs. This is why we would like to teach you a few ways Xitsonga people greet one another.

Like in any other language, there are terms or words used for “good morning,” “good afternoon” and “good evening”. In Xitsonga, these type of greetings are suitable for when greeting the elders, a group of people or the people you respect highly:

  1. Avuxeni (/ah-boo-share-ni/) meaning ‘good morning’ – The word ‘Avuxeni’ literally means ‘East’ and it used as a formal way to greet in the morning. However, over the period of years it has been adopted as a general greeting similar to ‘hello’ and ‘hi.’ This means you can use it anytime of the day.
  2. Inhlikanhi (/in-cli-ka-ni/) meaning ‘good afternoon’ – The word ‘inhlikanhi’ means ‘afternoon’ and can be used as a formal greeting during the afternoon.
  3. Riperile (/Ri-pe-ri-le/) meaning ‘good evening’ – once the sun has set, the formal way to greet another person is “good evening” which in Xitsonga is known as “riperile.”

There are also words similar to “hello” and “hi” that can be used anytime of the day to greet another person, these are also available in Xitsonga. See below:

  1. Ndzawini (/nzha-wee-ni/) – When you enter someone’s house, this is the first thing you say to announce your arrival. This word can also be used when passing by someone’s house and when you come across a group of people standing by the road, the first thing you say to them is “ndzawini” as a way to greet them. This shows respect among the Xitsonga communities.
  2. Xewani (/share-wah-ni/) – This greeting is used more by older people to address one another before starting a conversation.
  3. Rixile (/ri-she-le/) – Similar to ‘good morning’, this is used when greeting someone in the morning. It is more suitable to use this word to your relatives after you just woke up.
  4. Yhaa! (/Yaaa/) – Probably taken from the Engligh word “Yeah,” this is an informal way to greet, very popular among the youth. When the word ‘yhaa’ is used, the name of the person being addressed then follows, e.g. “Yhaa Hlulani!” to which Hlulani will respond with a “Yhaa Matimba!”

There are other ways to greet depending on the situation and context:

  1. Vaxumi (/ba-shoo-mi/) – Used to greet someone who just came back from work.
  2. Vakhandli (/ba-car-ncli/) – Used to greet someone who just came back from a funeral.
  3. Vuyani (/boo-ya-ni/) – Used to greet someone who had been gone for a very long time and just came back home.
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Hlulani Masingi

Hlulani Masingi, also known as Hlulz; is a young, vibrant and witty black South African Tsonga woman with a solid education and seven years media experience. She graduated at the University of the Witwatersrand with a Bachelors Degree in Media Studies and English Literature and Honours Degree in Media Studies and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in African Languages and Linguistics in the Media at the same institution.

Born in Johannesburg and raised at ka-Mhinga, an underpriviledged village in Limpopo, Hlulani is a determined individual and regardless of her impoverished background, she has a variety of interests that include PR, Communications, Marketing and Events, her passion is Creative Writing. She has always had a strong thirst for knowledge and could already write the word ‘mother’ in her home language at the age of four. She started her first year of varsity at the age of 16. After working as an Online Editor from 2014 until 2017, Hlulani Masingi founded Shangazine – an online title focused on celebrating Xitsonga people’s traditional and contemporary lifestyle.

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