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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

Wondrous Words Wednesday 30th May 2012



is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we have encountered in our reading.

It is hosted by Kathy, over at BermudaOnion’s Weblog.

You can either stop by and leave a link to your own ‘mystery’ words of the week, or just browse the eclectic mix of words that others have discovered, there is always a great selection.

Don’t forget that Kathy and the rest of us, all love to read your comments  as well!!


 Because there were just too many great new words to discover all at once, this week I am making a return trip into Zimbabwean contemporary fiction book:-

‘The Hairdresser of Harare’ by Tendai Huchu.



… and even then, my Ngozi would still have something to say about that …

NGOZIIn Shona religion, in addition to the guarding characteristics of the vadzimu, there are also avenging or evil spirits, ngozi, and witches who communicate with them. The ngozi are, briefly, the spirits of deceased individuals who were greatly wronged, neglected by a spouse, murdered, or otherwise neglected, and they attack through sudden death of several members of the same family, or through ill people who fail to respond to treatment. Bucher (1980) and others stress the fear with which the ngozi are surrounded, in opposition to the guarding role of the vadzimu.



The seat designed for three was filled with four people with the hwindi leaning over our laps because there was no space for him

HWINDI is slang for a Zimbabwean tour or bus conductor, reputedly gifted with the special skills of obscene speech and the ability to hang from the open door of a speeding commuter omnibus with one hand.



It was a relief to see Trina leave, because two minutes later a pick-up packed with men carrying knobkerries arrived.

KNOBKERRIEAfrican clubs used mainly in Southern and Eastern Africa. Typically they have a large knob at one end and can be used for throwing at animals in hunting or for clubbing an enemy’s head. This knob is carved out of a treetrunk and the shaft is simply the branch that protruded from the tree at that point. The name derives from the Afrikaans word knop, meaning knot or ball and the word kierie, meaning cane or walking stick. The name has been extended to similar weapons used by the natives of Australia, the Pacific islands and other places.

Knobkierries were an indispensable weapon of war and during the apartheid era in South Africa they were often carried and used by protesters and sometimes by the police opposing them.

Knobkierries are still widely carried, especially in rural areas. The weapon is employed at close quarters, or as a missile, and in time of peace may serve as a walking-stick.


I find that an author using words and phrases which are local to the area in which the story is set, always adds to to flavour and authenticity of the piece and can only serve to enhance the overall reading experience for me. I had great fun doing some of my own research to fully enjoy this excellent book.


Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • Hi Yvonne. I am sorry for your loss. No need to apologize on sparse postings. Prayers and blessings to you.

    About your post, that is an interesting set of words. I agree, when an author uses words common in the setting of the book, it does enhance the reading experience and make it feel more ‘real’.

    • Hi Naida,

      Thanks for your kind thoughts. Mum had been ill for several decades, but that doesn’t change the finality of death, nor alleviate any of the many formalities which are so time and energy consuming.

      I know that it may slow down my reading to take time to research words which I come across in a book which I don’t understand, but I really do think that it can only add to the overall richness of the experience …. besides which, some of the words are so obscure, that I often end up having quite a chuckle over them …. I just love the word ‘knobkerrie’!

      Thanks for stopping by, your comments are always appreciated.

  • Oh Yvonne, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. It’s always difficult to lose a parent no matter how long they’d been sick. I’m sending hugs and good wishes your way.

    Your new words are all interesting – especially hwindi – they obviously have very talented bus drivers there.

    • Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for those kind words, it isn’t until you are faced with actually making all the necessary arrangements, that the finality of it all really hits home.

      The thought, that in the days when our UK buses actually had conductors, they would be virtually sitting on your lap, isn’t something I really care to visualise. It sounds pretty much that you take your life in your hands by travelling on a Zimbabwean bus!!

      Thanks for stopping by and as usual, for hosting.

  • Oh Yvonne, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. I remember how tough it was when my parents died. I’ll remember you and your family in my prayers.

    I enjoyed your new words. The African words are fun to read and say. It’s one of the reasons I loved reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective series.

    Take care of yourself and be extra kind to yourself.

    • Hi Margot,

      Thanks so much for the kind thoughts. Making the 80 mile round trip almost daily until all the arrangements are complete is quite tiring, but it is keeping my mind occupied … and a small glass of wine with dinner at the end of the day, of course!!

      I still haven’t got around to reading any of the Alexander McCall-Smith books, but after enjoying ‘The Hairdresser Of Harare’ so much, I shall definitely be putting that right very soon!

      Thanks as ever for the great comments, I always enjoy hearing from you.

  • Yvonne – so, so sorry to hear about your mother…that’s tough. I never know what to say, except that I am sorry.

    Regarding your words this week, its funny, but I like pronouncing them – the way they roll off the tongue. Ngozi is my favorite in that regard. We need some English words that start with “Ng.” 😉

    • Hi Libby,

      I never know what to say to other people in difficult situations either … ‘sorry’ is really all it needs and I thank you for your kindness.

      Some words just sound so much better when they are pronounced in the correct way. I do find the South African accent quite harsh and gutteral, but they do have some interesting words, which fit the style of speaking so well.

      I would be interested to hear how the H&W were pronounced together, in the word ‘hwindi’?

      Thanks for the interesting comments.

        • Hi Libby,

          Thanks for that great link, I’m all over it!!!

          I just discovered your photography site and love some of the shots you have there, especially the Summer roses.

          I shall be back to visit both sites regularly now that I have found you, so hope to have some great discussions in the future.

          Have a great weekend. We have an extra long weekend with Monday and Tuesday being public holidays, due to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, although typically the weather, which has been glorious to date, has now turned cold, wet and miserable!!

  • I’m so sorry to read of your loss, you must be heartbroken. *Hugs*

    I’ve not heard of any of this week’s words, but it’s always good to learn new ones especially when they relate to the culture of a book you’re reading.

    • Hi Nikki,

      Mum had been ill for many years and had been slowly deteriorating, but the end when it did come, was still quite unexpected and something of a shock.

      Thanks for your kind thoughts and words, they are much appreciated.

      I really enjoy learning about new words and phrases, when they are part of the cultural make-up of a story and the people who are speaking them. There were several other phrases which I did not include in my posts and I have to say that some of them were hilarious, when used in the context of the story. There were also some words which highlighted the repression and cruelty which still exists in Zimbabwe and those were quite moving and poignant.

      All in all, an excellent book.

      Good to talk with you, sorry for the delay in responding.

  • I’m so sorry about your mum!! I must have missed your post about her and only know by reading through the other comments. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. I know how heartbreaking it is to loose a parent, whether it was sudden or anticipated. Many many {HUGS}

    All of your words are new to me. I already put this book on my TBR list thanks to an earlier post of yours. Now when I come across these words, I’ll know what they mean!

    • Hi Vicki,

      I didn’t publish a post about losing my mum, it just came out in a conversation to one person and kind of ‘spread via the grapevine’. I do appreciate all the kind words and thoughts I have received though and I thank everyone sincerely.

      I do hope that I have not spoiled the prospect of reading this book too much with any of my posts, I do try really hard not to give away too many ‘spoilers’.

      If you don’t want to know any more before you read the book for yourself, you might want to skip my review post when it is ready.

      I will just say that ‘The Hairdresser Of Harare’ is a really good read, although it only serves to heighten just how unaware I am of the finer points of the Zimbabwean ruling regime, apart from that which I learn from the news broadcasts and that is nothing if not very biased for the mostpart.

      Thanks for stopping by, I always appreciate your comments.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss; I wish for you lots of strength and comfort.

    The words you link to are delicious. I just like the way they sound when I say them (or try to say them) 🙂 Thanks for sharing them.

    • Hello HKatz,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful words, everyone’s support has been amazing, despite the fact that I only let the fact that Mum had passed away, slip out to one person.

      So many non-English words sound so much better, especially when spoken by a native of the country of their origin.

      Having said that, many overseas visitors comment on some of the quaint English accents and dialects, which I take for granted and think sound pretty common and bad.

      I have to admit that I prefer to hear French or Italian spoken, as they don’t sound quite as harsh as the African accent, but the author paints such a vivid picture of life in this Zimbabwean community, that I can picture and almost hear the words being spoken by the characters.

      Thanks for stopping by, your comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Written by Yvonne