As a mom raising a black child in a multi-cultural society it’s important that she know or at least understand languages other than her home language, which is English. We have asked Ester, our Head of Domestic Operations to speak to Emma as much as possible in Sotho and to also teach her songs and nursery rhymes. She loves Noyana tse peli, which is the equivalent of our ‘Two Little Blackbirds Sitting On A Wall’ and she sings along with Estie, screaming the FUFA bit at the top of her lungs:
Hodima sefate Engue ke mantso Engue ke mosoeu
Fufa mantso Fufa mosoeu Boea mantso Boea mosoeu.
Fly away Black, Fly away White, Come back Black, Come back White.
Emma was also taught from early on to blow kisses in an indigenous language. Whereas I would greet my friends with an enthusiastic ‘mwah’, Emma will often say ‘mbah’. She knows when she’s been yelled at by Ester and she knows that ‘etla nana’ means she needs to make her way to Estie. When Estie says ‘ke a o rata’ Emma responds with ‘love you too Essie’.
Recently at Serendipity Emma and her BFF’s were playing with Thabani, one of the child minders there. Emma loves Thabani. Come Thursday the nagging starts for him…and it doesn’t end until we get to him, on Saturday. She then throws all caution to the wind and screeches down the pathway ‘THABANI, THABANI!!!!!!!!!!’. When we leave Emma cries for him and I think she leaves a little piece of her heart behind.
Emma and her three little friends were jumping on the trampoline with Thabani keeping a close eye on them. I was on my way back from the loo and heard them all singing along to ‘hap laka bani’. Wow! I thought, Emma’s playing AND learning too. I wonder what ‘hap laka bani’ means. As I sat at my little table of bliss I could still hear them, whooping and hollering ‘hap laka bani’. Then I heard Thabani ask one of them “what does a bani eat?” “Carrots!” they screamed in unison. Emma hadn’t learnt a new language. She had learnt a new accent and was singing ‘hop like a bunny.’