Xhosa to English: The Language of Nelson Mandela

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Xhosa to English: The Language of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a great man. While he has passed, his legacy, as we all know, will continue to live on. In addition to his incredible achievements in life, which include freeing and uniting an entire people, while simultaneously inspiring millions of disenfranchised souls around the word, Mr. Mandela also brought some global recognition to his native language of Xhosa, which was fairly obscure to people living outside of Sub-Saharan Africa before he came onto the scene.

If you think you’ve never heard of Xhosa, or any Xhosa to English translation before, you just might be mistaken. One of the most famous nicknames for Mandela is his Xhosa clan name of “Madiba.” And, of course, you’ve probably seen pictures of the former South African president in one of his signature Batik, also known as “Madiba,” dress shirts. His colorful style was a breath of fresh air among the rather drab fashion scene prevailing among the suit-and-tie movers and shakers of the global elite.

It also seems that at least a few native speakers of Xhosa have and had a great sense of things to come. Nelson Mandela’s given birth name of “Rolihlahla” in Xhosa to English translation means “troublemaker.”

How did his parents know, with one look, perhaps, that their baby boy would cause so much distress for South Africa’s ruling party? This small child, already labeled as a troublemaker, grew into the man who would eventually help bring an end to the oppressive policies of apartheid. Any soothsayer worth his or her salt would have given an arm or leg for such powers of prescience.

If you’re ever in the market for English to Xhosa, or Xhosa to English translations someday, you’re in luck. While the Bantu language of Xhosa isn’t spread across the globe, more than seven million people speak Xhosa as their native tongue. Most Xhosa speakers also know English, which increases your odds of finding an educated translator or interpreter (through a reputable service, of course) significantly.

Xhosa, like Chinese, is a tonal language, but unlike Chinese, clicking vocalizations are thrown into the mix, creating a unique sounding language with a long and proud history, spoken by one of the most important human beings every to walk across the soils of Africa, and travel this vast Earth. Xhosa, while not widespread, is a language that should be around for a long time to come.

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