Mzansi – the Oxford Dictionary states the etymology as being
“from Xhosa uMzantsi, from um- (singular prefix) + -zantsi (low, south)”Oxford Dictionary
but since I spent the majority of my formative years growing up in the rural farming community of Ixopo in the beautiful South African midlands, I recognise it as a commonly used Zulu word which is widely recognised colloquially to mean “South Africa”.
I have lived in the UK for over 20 years now but I am still proudly and fiercely South African. As the (somewhat entirely politically incorrect these days) saying goes – “you can take the South African out of the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the South African”. I don’t know if it’s my constant yearning for the wide open space of the South African landscape, or my passion for partially dried meat (“biltong” to those foreigners reading this – it’s sort of like American “jerky” – only MUCH BETTER), or perhaps the smattering of strange words that litters my conversation (only fellow Saffa’s know what “eish” means ….), or maybe my disdain for non rugby fans, but wherever I go I am instantly identified as being South African – which suits me just fine – I’m from Mzansi!
I don’t get much opportunity here in the UK to speak the Zulu I picked up as a child on the farm and I’m sure I’d struggle quite a bit to hold a full blown conversation with a native Zulu speaker these days, but I certainly retain sufficient Zulu for my ears to prick up whenever I hear it spoken. It was therefore with much excitement that I overheard the lyrics to a song in a plethora of videos that suddenly seemed to take over every single social media channel – I am of course referring to the viral videos associated with the Jerusalema Dance Challenge that has recently taken the world by storm.
The song by South African DJ and producer Master KG is certainly very catchy and it contains a “spiritual” message within the lyrics, with the opening line “Jerusalema ikhaya lami” translating as “Jerusalem, my home” followed by the haunting cry of “ngi londolozi” (protect me) and “uhambe nami” (walk with me) being a plea to God to save and protect his people.
I love the song and the fantastic sense of unity it has sparked in communities across the world and the lyrics reminded me of an old African Proverb that I heard in my youth:-
“home is not where we live, home is where we belong”African proverb
This inspired me to create the above simple design, to spread a simple message amongst South Africans wherever they live in the world, no matter what religion they follow – “MZANSI ikhaya lami” – South Africa is my home – where do you belong?
The MZANSI design is available globally on a wide range of merchandise from tshirts and hoodies to caps, mugs and more – we use a variety of POD (Print On Demand) providers to supply our merch from our UK/EU and USA online stores with some items like laptop & phone covers, notebooks, blankets and more available exclusively from our Redbubble shop.