Talking Back 2.4—M: makoya, mjolo, msunery, Mzansian

Read the Introduction to Talking Back 2.1 to 2.8


1. adjective ■ genuine, authentic ■ 2. noun ■ “the real thing; the genuine article” (Lexico) ■ usually occurs as real makoya ■ from “the (real) McCoy”


2001   A real makoya Cuban cigar is rumoured to have been rolled between a beautiful woman’s thighs before it gets to your mouth, so bro, you can’t possibly expect to pass off as “the man” unless you have smoked a bona fide Havana or a Romeo.

2002   This time I was not in the company of semi-fit, semi- drunk, and fully babalaased soccer players; I was riding with a makoya tour guide.

2005   Make sure you have “makoya moola” (headline)

2007   PP knows that I’m the number one here in Msawawa and he comes second. I’m the real makoya charm. I have great taste in abomabhebeza and I always win them with ease.

2010   A real Makoya Gold Digger, she was bragging to her foreigner friends that she got a Big Fish in SA!

2013   Two days of immersion in the finest craft beer South Africa has to offer. It’s the Holy Grail of makoya beer.

2017   South African Federation of Trade Unions calls for “real makoya radical economic transformation” (headline)


2003   Like all tourists, they wanted a firsthand experience of the real makoya, Msawawa [sc. Soweto].

2007   When such things happen it is as if you are in a dream but when you realize that you are awake you can’t help but say Lord you are real and You are the real makoya!

2009   For all you know, this man may be the real makoya for her and you’re just a snack to nibble on when he’s not available.

2013   You can be annoyed, cry and roll over. We are the makoyas of this Mzansi. Whether by numbers or influence. Capish. (comment)

2018   Africa State of Mind: “They call me the real Makoya”—Femi Koya, musician (headline)

mjolo, umjolo

noun ■ dating, fling, courting, romance; sexual play, intimacy, or relationship ■ from isiXhosa or isiZulu, from SA English, jol (2 & 6), jolling (1), from Afrikaans

2006   Teachers need to be woken up to the fact that learners are sent to school to learn, and not to be harassed, cuddled or fondled. Parents spend their money so that their kids can be educated, and not for umjolo.

2008   Indications are that the romance is set to linger longer as I’m having a second go at the phantasm that is love. / … Umjolo, as we’d rather call it, cannot be taken for granted.

2010   It seems like there’s too much mjolo in this season of #survivor (tweet)

2011   2 have a successful marriage/mjolo u need 2 fall in love … many times (tweet)

2012   Re JZ wedding: What’s the diff between idikazi nomfazi? What we’re seeing feels like the bastardisation of our culture. Umjolo is not isiko [sc. custom]. (tweet)

2012   I need to delete all my Ex’s Photos…. They’re not good for my current mjolo. (tweet)

2012   I believe TRUST is everything in any kinda relationship not just umjolo! (tweet)

2013   Fuck that. Fuck her. Fuck liking her. Fuck love. Fuck umjolo. Fuck it! … Yho & to think I really liked this girl. Fuck that. (tweet)

2013   Obviously it was a fight over umjolo dating, shame. (comment)

2013   I guess this means that you aren’t “mjolo”? (tweet)

2013   Was in grade 3 whn i 1st knw bwt hr mjolo wt Zwai. (tweet)

2013   Today looks prime for iron, books and maybe umjolo if my wallet can do better and stretch that far. (tweet)

2013   I don’t think its necessary to fight another woman over a man. Especially if he’s just a boyfriend. Fight for a husband, not umjolo (tweet)

2014   I actually think that Qondi and Bhekifa will again meet at the wedding …. That’s where they will start umjolo krkrkr (comment)

2017   Look into educational media such as discovery channel and BBC Earth. / All the best sweetheart. / On a side note, it is refreshing to see someone seeking career advice instead of umjolo. (comment)

2018   I miss umjolo, the innocent kisses under the street lamps.

2019   The various rounds are set up as exams, tests and pop quizzes encompassing the entire high school experience, not forgetting practical assessment. Matric Dance or Farewell, school trips or excursions, mjolo or courting and beef or ama goorie – After School Is After School.

2019   Enough about Sjava, Babes and Lady Zamar mjolo, tf is Pirates and Chiefs up to this season with offside goals? (comment)

2019   “Umjolo” (dating) is so common because married people are very few, I am not referring to older people but I mean people in our age group. (informant)

Attributive use:

2010   Is this da umjolo central place of durban, boys with cars n young varsity gals #smh … Berea centre? (tweet)

2012   What do u think of mothers who are constantly in their daughters’ mjolo affairs? (tweet)

2019   Toni Braxton coming to South Africa, Iyeyi umjolo therapy yall. (tweet)


noun ■ assholery, fuckery, bullshit, clownery ■ also occurs as msunary ■ from isiXhosa and isiZulu, msunu, asshole, anus + English suffix -ery, indicating a noun “denoting a class or kind; … an occupation, a state, a condition, or behaviour [or a noun] with a depreciatory reference” (Lexico)

2011   Msunery … Clownery! … LOL, tell him Claro (tweet)

2013   The amount of msunery I’ve seen on my TL recently! (tweet)

2013   “You a HOE if your uncle never raped you” <— what msunery is this mara? *smh* (tweet)

2013   BruuhMsunery even—“My mentions—idiots will laugh at anything. Such fuckery.” (tweet)

2015   It is a deliberate act of resistance for us to love each other as a couple, and to raise our family our way, in a world that sees families as efficiently organised units of consumers, as cogs in the Machinery of Msunery.

2015   The worst form of child abuse is to have a groupie for a mother. The ponytail is turning into an epidemic. Ag, such msunary will make Elvis turn in his grave.

2016   Parts of this life like a movie scene / People who never knew me can’t get used to me / Soundin’ like a nigga rich or he’s soon to be / Hate’s just msunery. (lyrics)

2016   A learner was punished for speaking Xhosa, like what msunery is this? (comment)

2016   Though am a City fan, Wayne is what’s left of United. This is msunery coming from Mou. (comment)

2017   Doesn’t #IdolsSA have its own channel? / Where is #DateMyFamily, what msunery is this? (tweet)

2017   It is in fact a minefield of msunery (fuckery) because it speaks to hierarchy and respect. (FB post)

2018   That narrative is partly the construct of the nouveau black middle class and its white cultural establishment’s handlers, as is the “msunery,” to reference the poet Koleka Putuma, of thug-life “gqhiras” and “magwazas” manipulating traditions for self-enrichment.

2018   A painfully stupid group apparently in response to the famous Izinja Ezingondli. Such msunary! (FB post)

2018   A black man is still expected to have a job and still be judged about his occupation and get labelled broke! When he works at a franchise he’s broke, but if he works in a corporate field he’s successful and monied! Such double standards are the highest level of msunery!

2018   2018 has been a msunery of a year. Magtag! But ke, we laugh & smile through it all.

2019   Will be back for the Msunery here #OnMyTsnCs. Miss all these trembling white cowards, shem. Botha, Potgieter, Thieving Rapist descendants of Van Riebeck, etc: how are you my babies? We shall gesels more Mr Skont and Ms Unus #OurLand (tweet)

2019   Am I the only one who’s not even the least bit interested in this #GoTComesToNuMetro msunary? I wanna watch it in the comfort of my own home thank you… (comment)

2019   “You don’t know msunery until you have been loved like Mandela”—Koleka Putuma

2019   So @Shoprite_SA wants to sell me a spoon full ulusu for R17, what msunery is this? (tweet)

Attributive use (often as msunery situation):

2013   Kodwa I miss my classmates and their msunary behaviour. (tweet)

2018   That msunery moment when you visit your uncle who is HIV positive, then two mosquitos decide to keep you busy; you be like heei-hai, voetsek-voetsek-hei. (FB post)

2019   These msunery situations are hectic there by Twitter. (FB post)

2019   What msunery situation have you experienced in a relationship? (FB post)


1. noun ■ a citizen or inhabitant of South Africa ■ 2. adjective ■ of or pertaining to South Africa ■ also occurs as Mzantsian and Mzanzian ■ from isiXhosa, Mzantsi Afrika, South Africa ■ see Mzansi

Mzansi, the informal name for South Africa which I wrote about in 2016, now has an entry in a number of international (general English) online dictionaries. Language not standing still, over the years the derivative, Mzansian, has developed; it is used as a noun to describe South Africans and as an adjective to describe things from South Africa.

As Mzansi occurs in a number of forms (Mzantsi and Mzanzi are less prevalent alternatives), so too does Mzansian—Mzantsian and Mzanzian—though the first is by far the most frequent. Analysis of a corpus of 1230 tweets from 2009 to 2019 that include Mzansian or one of the alternative spellings or their plural forms shows that Mzansian occurs 430 times; Mzansians, 504; Mzanzian, 76; Mzanzians, 85; Mzantsian, 66; and Mzantsians, 58 times. The plural form of the noun is the most frequent, accounting for just over half of the total number of instances. Furthermore, the noun is used more often than the adjective.

Analysis of the collocations of Mzansian in the corpus shows that its most frequent statistically significant 1L–1R collocates occur to the left of the word (see the table below). In combination with Mzansi (or a variant), these most often occur as the following phrases: proudly Mzansian (100 times), fellow Mzansians (73), morning Mzansians (56), and proud Mzansian (23).


In other words, here, the word primarily functions within a representation of self as a (proud) Mzansian to the rest of the twitterverse and as a means of addressing one’s compatriots, especially first thing in the morning. Subtexting much of this is the popular and authorised tagline, “Proudly South African,” as used by everyone from destination marketers and commodity exporters to international sports teams and the general public. “Proudly Mzansian” is a hipper, more 21st century, more localised currency that is attuned to the contemporary South African community (or claims to be).


2005   He is emphasising something important which isn’t recognised and we are proudly Mzansianz. (comment)

2005   We have our own slave name … so why run for they sh-t … I thot we was proudly Mzansian. (comment)

2008   I don’t watch fosho [sc. SABC 1] at all but since Monday I have for the sake of my toddler who’s Mzansian fosho.

2008   South African, Mzantsian.

2011   Rugby is not his kind of game, though. But as a patriotic Mzansian, he feels duty bound to support Amabhokobhoko through and through.

2016   You are a real Mzansian (South African) at your best. (comment)

2017   Beating Nigeria at their own yard shows how serious the boys are, well done, proudly Mzansian. (comment)

2018   (FB post)


2019   Busiswa features on the song with fellow Mzansian, Moonchild.

2019   Busiswa, you make me love to be Mzansian, you da best. (comment)

2019   Rooibos is one of SA’s most valued natural treasures, but besides being a healthy homegrown tea, how much do Mzansians really know about it?

2019   Many tend to add sugary syrups, whipped cream or heaps of sugar to their coffee …, which … adds up if you consider that the average Mzansian consumes about four cups of coffee a day.


2011   Mzansi Style all the way. Pantsula is Mzansian bro, okay. (comment)

2014   I won, darling. The inaugural Babble Art Award for Mzansian genius. I won it by a mile. (drama)

2014   My newly found love n I will be experiencing a broadly Mzansian extravaganza!

2015’s putting a Mzansian spin on karaoke in a new gameshow called Shikisha.

2015   I purposefully made a rare pilgrimage … to hear a talk and the responses to some questions put to the author of a … book on the mechanics of the Mzansian private Kredit industry.

2017   We … will continue to shower the masses and load our machine gun from the extensive arsenal of visual beauty and music that is proudly Mzansian.

2019   Is she the most beautiful lady in Mzansian TV? Well, that doesn’t matter she’s so Mzansiful. (comment)

Go to Talking Back 2.5—P–R: phakile, phakisha, ringa, ringas

Text, except where quoted, © GQOM 2020

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