The “X” of South Africa

I am going to write my thoughts, the bits and bobs that I remember of how it was for me, during my almost fifty years spent in South Africa.

These are my ‘X’ memories, opinions and views on a time during a much loved childhood and beyond!

Xhosa, Xmas, X-ray tetra, Ximenia, Xerus

You thought I was going to be stumped at the letter “X”, didn’t you; well so did I!

The Xhosa people of South Africa refer to themselves as the amaXhosa and to their language as isiXhosa.  It is the most common language after Zulu.  There are 8 million Xhosa’s in the country many in the Cape Region. 

This is where the Cape frontier wars were fought back in 1778-1878 against the Dutch and British settlers.

The Xhosas  fought for their land which was annexed from them by these colonial powers.  The Xhosa language is fascinating to listen to as it has a click click sound to it, making it rythmic too.

There is also a theory that the word xhosa derives from a word in some Khoi-khoi or San language meaning “fierce” or “angry”, the amaXhosa being the fierce people.

The fruit, Ximenia is well known to the African people, the oil of which, they use for skin care.

Ximenia seed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids,  and therefore has a considerable nutritional value, with an anti aging effect on the skin. Nourishing and moisturizing.

Birds eat the fruit and animals feed on the leaves; what a great plant!

Now when I lived in South Africa as a child we read many lovely children’s story books sent to us from our Aunt who lived in England.  Nell believed that children could never have enough books.  Her gifts were well apreciated.

There were drawings of squirrels in these books.  We don’t have squirrels quite like that in South Africa.  I loved them, but had to wait till I lived here to see a real British squirrel with a curly tail.

Unlike this little fellow, who is a South African squirrel called a Xerus.

Another X is Xmas.  A word I have tried never to use or write since I was about 18 years old.

I learnt an embarrassing leason from an anglican minister, Rev Richard Bird; who knocked on our front door to visit my father, and looked in horror at what I had sprayed in white snow on the hall mirror.

He asked what it said.  I said “Happy Christmas!”

“Well then, he said,”strange, that’s not what I read. ‘Christmas’ says what it is, there can be no shortened version of the name, nor lessor importance put on the celebration at this the time of year.”

I have never forgotten that, strange and it was so long ago; I removed the fake snow and strarted again.

“Happy Christmas” fitted on the mirror, it took a little more effort but was well worth it in the end.


About liz2you

Life just happens when you plan something else. 50 years spent in Africa and relevant stories.
This entry was posted in African animals, Alphabet Thursday, Christmas, South Africa, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The “X” of South Africa

  1. You know, as far bad as I can remember I was taught Xmas wasn’t a polite way to say Merry Christmas as the X removed Christ from the Christmas. Ever since that time I would not write Xmas. In recent years I learned more about the origin of the word. X comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first three letters of the Greek word Χριστός, which translates as Christ. So, I don’t feel offended now by the is word as I once was and whenever I do see it I always make mention to the meaning behind Xmas so no one will ever think Christ has been removed from Christmas. Great Alphabe-Thursday post!

  2. storybeader says:

    I don’t like xmas either. Guess you just have to write smaller. That means people have to look closer, which isn’t a bad thing… {:-Deb

  3. I loved learning some new things about Africa and I loved listening to the Xhosa’s language…from your link to one song, I also checked out some other entries, like lessons on making the click sounds :o) I remember as a child, listening to a Harry Belefonte record that had a song with that “clicking”. And I dont like to shorten the word for Christmas too. (& Cathy, your comment was neat to read).

    Blessings & Aloha!
    I am visiting our daughter, son in law and little grand baby, so only now catching up a bit with blog visits from last week!

  4. Ximenia sounds like an interesting fruit. In my mind I think it would be something like an avocado.

    I’ve really enjoyed this xcellent trip through your memories.

    I hate thinking it will be ending in only two weeks.

    Thank you for linking.


    • liz2you says:

      I too am sad it has ended and wonder what to do next…. Maybe stick to SA but from a totally new angle!
      thanks for visiting and for your wonderful blog!! Liz

  5. liz2you says:

    Reblogged this on 'Work Out' each Day and commented:

    On holiday at the moment! So my entry for X , jennys alphabe thursday is a reblog! Enjoy!

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