imbongi, noun

ibongi, imbongaShow more Also ibongi, imbonga, imbongo, mbongi, and with initial capital.
usually imbongis, or izimbongi; also iimbongi, isibongi, izibongi, izimbonga, sbongi, ’sbongi, zebōngas, or unchanged.
IsiXhosa, IsiZuluShow more IsiXhosa and isiZulu, praise-poet (plural iimbongi in isiXhosa, izimbongi in isiZulu).
Especially in the context of traditional African society:
1. A praise poet or public orator; mbongo sense 1; praiser. Also attributive. See also bonga verb.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 65We were accompanied by the two Imbōngas, or professed praisers of the King.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 124The leopard skin..would be given to one of the Zebōngas, or praisers, to make a new dress for the dance.
1839 W.C. Harris Wild Sports 116We..were..preparing to start when a herald, called, in the Matabili language, Imbongo, a proclaimer of the king’s titles, suddenly made his appearance outside the kraal.
1871 in T. Baines Northern Goldfields Diaries (1946) III. 687His Imbonga, or court flatterer..recounted the battles of the Matabele.
1888 D.C.F. Moodie Hist. of Battles & Adventures 474An amusing scene was taking place outside between two Izibongi (jesters or praisers), each yelling out the string of praises of their respective Chiefs — Mr. Shepstone and Cetewayo — and trying to outdo each other.
1898 B. Mitford Induna’s Wife 132The King..came forth.., preceded by the izimbonga, running and roaring, and trumpeting and hissing, as they shouted aloud the royal titles.
1913 W.C. Scully Further Reminisc. 270The ‘imbonga,’ or ‘praiser.’
c1948 H. Tracey Lalela Zulu p.iiA good Zulu Imbongi would be expected to string off a round of praises lasting five minutes or more without repeating himself, though many individual lines were repeated for poetic reasons.
1968 Post 28 Apr. 3 (caption)A mbongi ululates before the smiling Heads of State (Kaunda and Khama).
1973 Drum 8 Mar. 53The mbongis are out in their colourful dresses dancing and singing, shouting ‘Bayete’ to Mnumzana Vorster...The mbongis..climb up his ancestral tree singing the praise poems of Vorster’s illustrious forebears.
1976 Drum 15 May 2The mbongi laureate able in his praises to climb right up Chief Matanzima’s ancestral tree to the first Matanzima since creation.
1980 M. Mutloatse Forced Landing 1The part the black writer has to play is rather demanding...He has to be tradesman, docker, psychologist, nurse, miner, matshigilane, tshotsha, teacher, athlete, toddler, mother, musician, father, visionary, imbongi and — above all — oral historian.
1986 A. Sitas in Bunn & Taylor From S. Afr. (1988) 277His performances initiated a revival of imbongi poetry in union gatherings in Natal and beyond. [Note] Praise-singer.
1988 Spiegel & Boonzaier in Boonzaier & Sharp S. Afr. Keywords 55Inkatha now has its own izimbongi (praise poets) who are called upon to praise the organisation and its leaders at various public gatherings.
1991 N. Mbatha in Pace Feb. 28Before the chief takes the floor, a praise-poet (imbongi) will introduce the chief by reciting.
1992 S. Afr. Panorama Nov.Dec. 75In Transkei, the iimbongi, the public orators or praise poets, have gradually shifted their allegiance from royalty to political figures.
2. rare. Plural unchanged. isibongo sense 2.
1965 M. Hansen in Sunday Chronicle 7 Dec.The ancient Zulu..intoned the Imbongi of Cetewayo (the praises of Cetewayo).
A praise poet or public orator; mbongo sense 1; praiser. Also attributive.
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