The Etymology of ‘Thanda / Thando’

Sihle Ntuli

after E’mon Lauren’s poem ‘The Etymology of “CHUUCH!”’


           [Thanda / Thando]

a Nguni word meaning love
though meaning tends to get confused with like / because there is no clear way to tell 

as in:     this kind of love   is so abundant    it will not be beholden
to thresholds    of how much   or how little    while crossing over into the soul

          [pronounced tha + nda] = thanda
          (this variation used to describe a subject / object of)

for this variation to be properly pronounced   / one must begin with
a commonly known exclamation / used by magicians / thanda pronounced similar to 

tada! / though in between the enchanting
scaling down the inflection of da!  / to a more subdued duh 

as in:  we already know about the magic
           while including the ‘n’   between the magic / as tada becomes thanda

as in:  ngiyabathanda abantu bami abangamaNguni
            I love my Nguni people of the bantu ethnic group

& let us pretend this ‘n’ / between tha & da stands for nguni  

subject of my love / object of my love / my people / so forgetful of our migration
from the west of sub-Saharan Africa / amid black civil war / so divisive 

& again / let us pretend the ‘n’ / between the magic
stands for nguni / as we wonder about our lost love holding us back 

         [pronounced tha + ndo] = thando
         (this variation used to describe the type of / kind of / nature of)

in this variation / we remain in our founding exclamation
of magic / remember tada to thanda / thanda becomes thando 

the do in thando pronounced / as door without the r
as in dough like money / in this case / a qualitative comprehension of the love 

       as in:  uthando labantu abangamaNguni seliqalile ukuphela
       the love of the Nguni people is beginning to end 

& here / the ‘n’ will no longer stand for nguni
for nguni has closed the door on the type of / kind of / nature of love 

planting seeds of division / each group / so willing / to set fire to crops of
one another / not realising a common hunger for love / as we approach a destiny of ashes