bombela, noun

Forms:
Also bombella, mbombela, and with initial capital.
Origin:
ZuluShow more Unknown; probably Zulu bombela head for (a foreign place), perhaps related to ibombo direction or bearings one takes on journeying.
Either of two types of transportation carrying black migrant workers between home and work:
a. A (railway) bus.
1934 R.M. Agar-O’Connell in Stokes & Wilter Veld-Trails 109Twelve months’ exile at the mines and in the train and bombela (railway ’bus).
1949 L. Hunter Afr. Dawn 99I would have been able to get home today but the bombela was very late owing to trouble on the road.
1952 H. Klein Land of Silver Mist 28One of the huge railway road motor service buses, called ‘bombelas’ by the Natives throughout South Africa, drew up outside the store in a cloud of dust. Pondos, homeward bound from a spell on the Rand gold mines, climbed out.
b. A train; more recently, a commuter train. Also attributive.
1964 G. Gordon Four People 261Hundreds of them..hastily bundled their blankets, clothing and other belongings and caught the ‘mbombela’, or workers’ train, home to the Transkei.
1970 G. Westwood Bright Wilderness 8All those who were grown up found it more profitable to go to a recruiting office and join the Bombella train, that took them to Egoli, Johannesburg, the city of gold.
1980 B. Leshoai in M. Mutloatse Forced Landing 130The third class Mbombela coaches were crammed with other men from Lesotho and the Cape.
1988 D.P. Kunene in Bunn & Taylor From S. Afr. 406She went to the station whenever the bombela train was coming, either with its new recruits from farther south, or with the weary returned ones who had just completed the joyini of twelve months or more.
1990 Weekly Mail 21 Sept. 9Back in the Fifties a few people did leap out of windows when tsotsis terrorised the bombelas that connected the various Orlandos (before the acronym Soweto was coined) with Jo’burg. Those raids were..just plain criminal, as were the two last week on the same trains.
A (railway) bus.
A train; more recently, a commuter train. Also attributive.
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