isibongo, noun

Forms:
esebongo, isibongaShow more Also esebongo, isibonga, sibonga, sibongo, and with initial capital.
Plurals:
usually izibongo; occasionally isibongos, izibongi, izimbongi, izimbongo.
Origin:
Xhosa, ZuluShow more Xhosa and Zulu. In these languages, the singular form isibongo is used only with reference to a clan name or praise name; the plural form izibongo is used of clan names, but also of a praise poem, which is made up of numerous praises.
1. A clan name, praise name, or surname used among Xhosa- and Zulu-speakers. Also attributive. See also bonga-name (bonga verb sense 2).
Note:
In this sense, forms in izi- always represent the plural.
Note:
The ‘isibongo’ name usually constitutes the first word or words of a praise poem (see sense 2 below).
1857 J. Shooter Kafirs of Natal 220The other name is called isi-bonga — a noun formed from uku-bonga to praise. This is an honorary name, borne in addition to the i-gama, and independently of it.
1870 H. Callaway Religious System of Amazulu 337These words are izibongo or praise-giving names, by which the doctor addresses the bone which is taken from the porcupine. Each bone has its isibongo, one or more.
1875 D. Leslie Among Zulus 146Each tribe has its own ‘Esebongo,’ or name of thanks; for instance, one tribe is called Emtetwa, or scolders.
1875 D. Leslie Among Zulus 204This ‘Isibongo’ is taken from some trait in a man’s character, from his bravery, his strength, or his comeliness.
1895 H. Rider Haggard Nada p.ixI give you your ‘Sibonga’ and that royal salute, to which..you are alone entitled. [Note] Titles of praise.
1936 Cambridge Hist. of Brit. Empire VIII. 45In the south-eastern tribes all the people claiming descent from the same ancestor in the male line bore a common isibongo, or laudatory name, which was usually that of the common ancestor.
1967 O. Walker Hippo Poacher 49A man came to Laita’s kraal at this time claiming to be of the same sibongo, or praise name, as Laita.
1978 A. Elliott Sons of Zulu 15One reason why a surname or family name (sibongo) is not..used more.., is that clans generally live grouped together in specific areas under their own chieftains and..have the same clan names or ‘surnames’.
1978 A. Elliott Sons of Zulu 46Zulu took a wife from a clan in the neighbourhood and his son or sons took the name Zulu as their sibongo or family name.
1993 K. Makaka InformantMy first name is Kasiya, my father’s name is Henry, my grandfather’s names are Chitamba and Makaka and his ‘Isibongo’ is Banda. I prefer to drop the ‘Isibongo’ because it belongs to millions [of] other people and because..I should get my ‘Isibongo’ from my maternal grandmother.
2. Frequently plural (sometimes with a singular construction). A collection of praises together constituting a praise poem; praise poetry; imbongi sense 2. Also attributive. See also bonga noun.
Note:
As oral poetry, izibongo are considered one of the principal art-forms of the Zulu- and Xhosa-speaking peoples. The term is now also applied to printed poems written in the style of traditional izibongo, including some in English.
1903 Ilanga 9 Oct. 4The Izibongo, or ‘praises’, in which the deeds of ancestors and great men are recited, were..valuable storehouses of historic fact.
1937 C. Birkby Zulu Journey 72The assembled men chanted the famous Isibongos — the official paeans of praise which are accorded to each of the Zulu kings. Chaka, Dingaan, Mpande, Cetywayo, Dinizulu and Solomon each have their own personal Isibongo, fulsome and repetitive, but nevertheless sacred and immutable as the full name and title of England’s sovereigns.
c1948 H. Tracey Lalela Zulu 17This Zulu song..is in the style of all Izibongo, the familiar Zulu praises to their heroes.
1949 O. Walker Proud Zulu (1951) 186‘Thou glancest and grazest them with spears,’ said Sibebu’s own ‘isibongo’ in honour of Mbuyana. ‘Quick stabbing is best, O Mbuyana!’
1959 L. Longmore DispossessedThe bride sat down and an old man..stood up to bonga her with izibongo, that is, to laud her with praises. The izibongo at urban weddings are dying out because the old people who live in town today cannot remember the family incidents of olden times.
1978 Speak Vol.1 No.5, 4Selections included..African hymns..and traditional praise singing (izibongo) in the vernacular, and traditional rural African music.
1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. 276Most missionary teachers ignored the elaborate improvisational mime and dramatic recitation of indigenous izibongo (Zulu: praise poetry) and izintsomi (Zulu: storytelling).
1983 Rand Daily Mail 26 May 9His tale varied from time to time but never failed to be recounted to the shouting and pantomime of an African praiser proclaiming his chief’s isibongo.
1987 NELM News (Nat. Eng. Lit. Museum) May 1The traditional praise poem or izibongo has enjoyed a particularly vital renascence in the context of the labour movement. This is reflected in the recent publication of..a collection of verse by ‘worker poets’.., originally performed at trade union meetings in Natal. Izibongo of this sort are a unique tool in raising workers’ consciousness of their union and its role in their lives.
1988 A. Sitas in Bunn & Taylor From S. Afr. 278After hearing Qabula perform his izimbongo of Fosatu, he realized that one did not need to be somebody from the university to write poetry.
A clan name, praise name, or surname used among Xhosa- and Zulu-speakers. Also attributive.
A collection of praises together constituting a praise poem; praise poetry; imbongi2. Also attributive.
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18571993