Monday, May 2, 2011

Qongqothwane (The Click Song)

The other day in my post on the 175th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, I mentioned that actress Betty White pronounces it the Spanish way (“San Hah-cheen-toh”) and Texans pronounce it the Texas way (“Sanja Sinta”). In the comments section, Egghead (Vonda from Oregon) said that when she doesn’t know how to pronounce the name of a place she just begins speaking in African click language. She then said of course she didn’t know what she was saying but she can do a mean click. I am not making this up. She closed her comment by saying, “Another great post for you to do research on, Bob!”

There’s an awful lot I do not know about an awful lot of things, but I didn’t have to do any research whatsoever to know that Vonda was probably referring to the Xhosa language of South Africa. I first learned about it way back in the mid-sixties when singer Miriam Makeba, whose musical career was going great guns in the United States until she married Stokely Carmichael, sang Qongqothwane.
I think I also recall that in those days the word Xhosa was spelled X!hosa with the exclamation point indicating the click.

According to Wikipedia, Qongqothwane is a traditional song of the Xhosa people of South Africa. It is sung at weddings to bring good fortune. In the Western World it is mainly known as The Click Song, a nickname given to the song by European colonials who could not pronounce its Xhosa title, which has many click consonants in it. The Xhosa title literally means “knock-knock beetle,” which is a popular name for the Xestobium rufovillosum, a woodboring beetle that makes a distinctive ticking sound. This beetle is believed by the Xhosa to bring good luck and rain.

The song is known world-wide thanks to the interpretation of South African singer Miriam Makeba (herself a Xhosa). In her discography the songs appears in several versions, both with title Qongqothwane and as The Click Song.

Here it is. Enjoy! (3:15)

After viewing and hearing the video, please join me in wishing Prince William and his Kate good luck and rain.

12 comments:

Carolina said...

Did you notice the video has Dutch subtitles? Very international. Wishing Kate and William all the best. May they live a long and happy life. We could do with some rain too actually. The grass looks very thirsty ;-)

rhymeswithplague said...

Carolina, I think it might be Afrikaans and not Dutch? Please refer to the Dutch East India Company, the Cape of Good Hope, the Orange Free State, Transvaal, and the Boer Wars for more information.

Of course, it could be Dutch. You probably recognize Dutch when you see it. I actually thought the subtitles were in German until you commented. Shows how little I know.

Thanks, as always, for commenting!

Putz said...

i think some of this you are making up<>><>most of it i do believe however,i have a record by her where she does such great harmony with janis eon{sp} <><>i bet you don' t know who she is???????

rhymeswithplague said...

Putz, Scout's honor, I am not making any of this up. I never heard of Janis Eon but I have heard of Janis Ian.

Snowbrush said...

Bob, I think it's a good and admirable thing that a good and admirable fellow such as yourself doesn't know an awful lot about awful things. BTW, everyone in Oregon speaks in African click language when we don't know what we're talking about. Too bad that we haven't figured out how to write in it too.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, I lost my head. I should have said there is a great deal I do not know about a great many things. Sorry for the temporary lapse in language.

Pat - Arkansas said...

I remember Miriam Makeba well, and enjoyed her singing. After following your link to the Click Song, I also viewed several other videos of her singing; my favorite was of her and Paul Simon in a segment of the Graceland tour. I liked that music, very much.

rhymeswithplague said...

Pat, I think Miriam Makeba also toured with Harry Belafonte at one point.

Daphne said...

Ahhhh I enjoyed that - thank you!

rhymeswithplague said...

Daphne, you're very welcome!

Wine in Thyme said...

Very nice, thank you for sharing. I've heard her sing on the album with Paul Simon, but never solo. I appreciated her explanation before she sang as well.

rhymeswithplague said...

Wine, this post was a pleasure to put together. Glad you liked it.