Dictionary of names delights

Writer keeps it traditional in follow-up

JABULANI MEANS REJOICE by Phumzile Simelane Kalumba, published by Helco Promotions, R300

Phumzile Simelane Kalumba
Phumzile Simelane Kalumba

What a delight! Linguistics academic Phumzile Simelane Kalumba has compiled a dictionary of South African first names, and Helco Promotions has just released the second edition of this useful little book.

The first edition was published six years ago in response not only to her interest in languages and naming, but also due to the need for just such a book.

Parents-to-be will enjoy thumbing through the paperback but there is more to this compilation than an anthology of possible baby names – much more, and it is worthwhile to read the author’s introduction which places her work in context.

“This book is an attempt to restore what the rightful owners have abandoned: our beautiful traditional names,” Simelane Kalumba writes and with this in mind has given voice to nine of South Africa’s 11 official languages. “I believe that reclaiming our African names will bring us closer to one another as a nation.”
So, while you won’t find an Elizabeth or a Johannes in this dictionary – because there are so many other books which do offer that – you will find 5 000 names that resonate with the history of this country.

Her essay on traditional naming conventions makes this a useful book for writers, libraries and schools.

Interestingly, and in line with other “baby name” books, Simelane Kalumba’s work is not exhaustive.

For example, I know two Liyemas, a Nomazima and a Zamandulo but none of these names are included.

However, this is all the more reason for an expanded third edition to be considered.