There is a song by the now-defunct band, 8 Bars Short, called Khombela. Released in 2013, the guitar driven number sees Itai Hakim and Pelonomi Moiloa sing about their yearning for home and a desire to map out their ancestry.
“Hi to ti akela, ndlela ya hina. Hi lava ku tivha leswi nga hindza. Mara vokokwana vha fambili, navatswari avaswi tivi,” sings Itai. Loosely translated this means, “We will build our own way. We want to know what came before us but our grandparents are gone and our parents do not know.”The song concludes with the pair asking, begging almost, to know where (in the ancestral sense) they come from.
Sometime in 2017, I listened to this song and it reminded me of us, in so many ways. Home, and its associations have always been complicated for me. I am Venda only by the mere fact that you are, but my tongue cannot wrap itself around the language. Whenever the topic comes up, I tell people I’m Venda, without anything except that particular stated noun as proof.I can hardly speak a word of the language, and last year was the first time in my adult life I’d set foot in Tshaulu, the village where you grew up. I suppose it was bound to be that way.