August 9, 2008

O Nkosi Jesu

This post might only appeal to those of you who worked with me at Bement Camp but it was such a moment of joy for me.

At Bement, we had a song called “O Nkosi Jesu” that we told the campers was in Zulu, a language closely related to Xhosa. By the time I was put in charge of music, the staff who had introduced the song to camp were long gone and the exact translation of the song had faded into the mists of time. I had a general idea of what the song was supposed to say but often felt like I was making up a new translation every time I introduced the song. I realized a week or so ago, however, that I actually knew all the vocabulary in the song (thanks to months in Xhosa-language church services) and could translate it all by myself.

So, without further ado, let me present the FINAL, CONCLUSIVE, and DEFINITIVE translation of “O Nkosi Jesu” (in Xhosa not Zulu, which explains a few changes some clever eyes might notice):

O Nkosi Jesu - O Lord Jesus
Wadala wezinto zonke - You have created everything
Wanqaba ukufa - You have conquered death
Wanqaba uSatane - You have conquered Satan
On the plus side, my translations usually hinted at this meaning on most days. As an added bonus, I’ve learned the q in the third and fourth lines are clicks, which makes the song even more fun to sing.


W. Huber said...

Amazing... I come across this looking for O Nkosi Jesu... and find Jesse Zink!