Mama, noun

Forms:
Also with small initial.
Origin:
Zulu, Xhosa, seTswanaShow more Zulu and Xhosa umama (plural omama), seTswana mama.
Among speakers of Sintu (Bantu) languages: ‘Mother’.
1. Always with initial capital, used as a respectful title. a. Prefixed to a woman’s first name; cf. Ma- prefix1, Mma-, Mme. b. specifically   Mama Africa, Mama Afrika: the singer Miriam Makeba, so called because of her importance as a political and cultural figure.
1977 Drum Oct. 57 (caption)Peter Davidson and Gabriel Thobejane meet the first lady of jazz, Mama Ella.
1977 Daily Dispatch 8 Dec. 13Mothers who have borne eight or more children are automatically referred to Mama Effie.
1987 New Nation 19 Nov. 9You are hated by the pillars of apartheid; Loved you are by freedom-lovers...You exposed our African music abroad. You, Mama Africa, took them by surprise.
1989 Weekly Mail 15 Dec. 27The next rhyme was on Helen Joseph: ‘Mama Helen, Mama Helen. What do you see?..I see a new land for Soraya, Cecily, Bongani and me.’
1990 P. Tshukudu in New African 18 June 12Mama Afrika back after 30 years...Lady Africa Miriam Makeba jetted in from Paris last week after three decades in exile...Makeba (57) — affectionately called the ‘Empress of African Song’ or ‘Mama Africa’ — arrived for a two week private visit.
1994 Sunday Times 24 July (Mag. Sect.) 30Mama Afrika — a documentary on Miriam Makeba airs on NNTV at 20.30.
2. A respectful or familiar term of address.
a. Used to address any adult woman.
1979 W. Ebersohn Lonely Place 71‘Did Small-boss Marthinus never, never hit Muskiet, Mama?’ he repeated. His using of the respectful ‘mama’ had done something to the old woman.
1984 Sunday Times 29 Jan. (Mag. Sect.) 10She is pregnant. She says Paulus hit her on the head with a bottle. Eric says: ‘Nice and easy, mama. How are you now — okay?’
1987 E. Makhanya in Sowetan 21 Dec. 12He moves so fast he looks like he is going through an Oriental ritual, ya see, mama.
b. Used to address one’s mother.
1982 M. Mzamane Children of Soweto 41His mother said they’d been woken up about three a.m. by the police who took him away...‘Did they say when he’ll be back, Mama?’
1984 E. Mphahlele Afrika my Music 141Our children have grown up to say, ‘Yes Mama,’ or ‘Yes, Ntate.’
3. Usually with small initial, as a term of reference: a black woman.
1984 Frontline Feb. 37Outside there are several aged mamas selling the same wares from the old-style stalls...Both shop and mamas seem to be doing good business, the mamas selling their apples for one cent less than the shop.
1987 A.K. Horwitz in New Coin Poetry June 24Phineas would whisper, rising from a whore’s imboia bed, (we’d take the pick of the mamas), that his doctor was right.
1989 J. Hobbs Thoughts in Makeshift Mortuary 122I like to work hard, sir, but maybe Mrs Kimber will not like me. Or the mama who brings me to you.
1989 J. Hobbs Thoughts in Makeshift Mortuary 173The old mealie mamas..used to go past in the street with big bulging sacks on their heads, calling ‘Meeeeealies!’
1990 D. Stanley in Frontline Sept. 12Mammoth-breasted mamas shriek at each other, jovially scolding, while selling apples, tomatoes, and oranges from makeshift tables.
‘Mother’.
used as a respectful title.
Prefixed to a woman’s first name; cf. Ma-prefix, Mma-, Mme.
the singer Miriam Makeba, so called because of her importance as a political and cultural figure.
A respectful or familiar term of address.
Used to address any adult woman.
Used to address one’s mother.
a black woman.
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