isiZulu imilolozelo, which are lullabies and izilandelo, which are songs that include a game, cover a range of topics and themes including nature, games, food and household objects. They can be educational, for entertainment or teach morals, history or traditions. In Ubhedu, their 1993 book of Zulu folklore Gule, Maphumulo and Thwala (1993:51) share their definition of umlolozelo. A short excerpt of this is shown below on the left with the English translation on the right hand side.
Umlolozelo uyinkondlo ethile yokudlalisa nokuthunduzela umntwana. Uhleleka njengenkondlo noma isizosha, kepha ulandwa ngezwi elisamculo . . . usangomana yokukhulisa abantwana . . . Umlolozelo uyinto eyakhiwe futhi eyaqanjwa abaqambi bakudala. Umlolozelo ungomunye wemidlalo yesiNguni … wakha ubudlelwano phakathi
A lullaby is a poem that is used to entertain a child or to induce a child to sleep; its structure is that of a poem, but it is voiced in a form of a song … A lullaby is like a song that is used in the upbringing of children. It is something that originates from people of long ago. Umlolozelo is one of the games of the Nguni people… it builds a relationship between mother and child.
This next short poem is what is known as a game song and it is specifically a game that is played by young boys only:
We bafana iyo! Aphʼ amathole iyo? Akonina iyo Azodlani iyo? Umgqushumba iyo!
Hey, boys, iyo! Where are the calves, iyo? They are at their mother s, iyo What will they eat, iyo? A mixture of mashed food, iyo.
Bhengu bhengu yandiza
Kufana noheshane Inyonʼ edlʼ izinkukhu.
A bird appeared
It flew high in the sky
It flapped its wings
Flap flap it flew
It flew up in the sky
What kind of bird is that
That is flying up in the sky?
It looks like a hawk
A bird that eats chickens
All the chickens
And go blindly into fenced barriers Since they have been hunted
By hawks the kings
They had a terrible experience Which burdens them.
Gule, Z.W., Maphumulo, A. M. & Thwala, J.J. 1993. UBhedu. Johannesburg: Lexicon Publishers.
Ntuli, C.D. 2011. “From Oral Performance to Picture Books: A Perspective on Zulu Children’s Literature” Available from: UNISA Institutional Repository. [14 April 2013]