“Hau!” is a Zulu exclamation sort of like the English “Hey!”. It is a very versatile exclamation that can indicate surprise, amazement, approval or disapproval, humour and many other emotions beside – all depending on the tone and context. It is a quintessentially African exclamation heard all over southern Africa. Hau! should cover all of the emotions in these blogs of my southern African experiences and observations. If it doesn’t … well then all I’ll have to say is Hau!
For me the “Hau!” that resonates through southern African history are the words uttered by Shaka, King of the Zulu’s, when he was murdered by his half-brother Dingane aided by another half-brother Mhlangana.
“Hau unfowethu! Ukungibulala ucabanga uzobosha, kodwa nenkonjane uzokwenza!”
“Hey brother! You kill me thinking you will rule, but the swallows will do that!
The swallows were the white people, so named because they built their houses out of mud – just like the swallows. The Zulus built their beautiful ‘beehive’ huts of grass thatched over bent saplings.
Shaka’s dying words did indeed prove to be prophetic.