South Africa

aas vogels Vultures (Afrikaans)


South African dialect of Dutch


South African of Dutch descent

berg Mountain. Also,  large hill, sometimes one with historical importance. (Afrikaans)
biltong Jerked meat, dried meat (Afrikaans, from bil rump + tong tongue) 


South African of Dutch or Huguenot descent (Dutch for farmer)

donga Dry watercourse, gully


Village (Afrikaans)


Ford over a stream or river. (Afrikaans)

Frontier Light Horse  One of the larger units of colonial irregulars (c. 200 men) who fought with the British during the 1879 Zulu war.
fundi Wise, knowledgeable person (Zulu)
Hale's rockets British - Either 9-pounder (army) or 24-pounder (navy) rocket used by British during the 1879 Zulu war. Army rockets were fired from an iron trough mounted on a tripod, navy rockets from a tube. 
ibutho A Zulu regiment. Size ranged from a few hundred to over a thousand warriors. Formed of men of the same ages (usually 18-19 years old), and given a name, and a distinctive group uniform, consisting in the main of a unique shield color and a particular combination of ceremonial feathers and furs.
ikhanda  Zulu regimental barracks. (plural amakhanda)
ikhehla Married Zulu warrior
iklwa Short stabbing spear used by Zulus. Also written as ixwa.
impi Zulu army, size varied wildly.
induna Zulu leader
inyanga Herbalist type witch doctor. (Zulu)
isihlangu Large war Zulu shield. A smaller version was adopted in the 1850s.
isicoco Fiber circlet woven into the hair, the mark of a married Zulu warrior.
iviyo Zulu company within an ibutho. Size ranged from 50-200 warriors. (plural amaviyo)
ixwa Short stabbing spear used by Zulus. Also written as iklwa.
jambok whip (Afrikaans)


black African, often used as an insult by whites (from Arabic caffre, for unbeliever or infidel)

Khaki British soldier (later usage) 
kitchen kaffir African kitchen servant
kloof Steep, narrow gully (Afrikaans)
knobkerrie War club. A wooden stick with a knob on the head. (Zulu)
kop South African hill. (Afrikaans)

kopje, koppie

Small South African hill (Afrikaans koppie)


South African native village enclosed by a wall, also a pen to hold animals (Afrikaans, from Portuguese curral pen for cattle)


South African camp with wagons circled for defense (Afrikaans)


"The Crushing", time of troubles, the Zulu expansion at the expense of neighboring tribes (from Nguni)

Natal Native Contingent (NNC) Natal tribal natives conscripted into British military service. There were c. 7,000 of these in the original 1879 force. Lacking uniforms, they wore a red rag around their heads. They were untrained, poorly led and poorly armed (only 1 in 10 had firearms at first).
Natal Native Horse (NNH) A native irregular force, officered by whites, one of the best units of the 1879 Zulu war. They had horses, uniforms, carbines, good leadership, and better discipline than most colonial irregulars.
pom-pom South Africa - One-pounder quick-firing 1-inch gun used by Boers in Third Boer War.
rinderpest Acute infectious cattle disease.  Related to the virus that causes measles in humans.  (German, from Rinder, plural of cattle + pest, pestilence) 1865


Redneck, British soldier (Afrikaans), early usage

sangoma Spiritualist type witch doctor; the word often used by whites for both types. (Zulu)


To migrate (Afrikaans, from Dutch trecken)

tsetse fly Any one of several flies that that live in Africa south of the Sahara and that carry sleeping sickness (Afrikaans [1865], from Tswana tsètsè, fly)
udibi boys Zulu youths who traveled with an impi, carrying supplies and herding cattle (Zulu)


Outlander, foreigner (Afrikaans)

umthakathi Sorcerer. Can be either a sangoma or an inyanga.  umthakathi are regarded as being evil and learned in evil ways, but they not always destroyed. It may be necessary to bewitch an enemy one day. (Zulu)
umutsha Zulu clothing similar to a loincloth, with fur in front and cowhide on the back. (Zulu)


Grassland with scattered shrubs and trees (Afrikaans veld, from Dutch, field)

Vierkleur Transvaal (?) national flag (four colors) (Afrikaans)
voorloper Scout, one who goes before the others. (Afrikaans)
zila The abstentions and rituals that were needed before a Zulu warrior could re-enter society after killing a foe. He needed to take a piece of his defeated opponent's uniform or a body part back to his village for the purpose of performing zila. (Zulu)


Group of Bantu speaking tribes organized under a strong militaristic central authority in the early 19th century by Shaka Zulu. A confederation rather than a single entity. 

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