qaba, noun

Also iqaba, and with initial capital.
amaqaba, qabas.
Xhosa, Zulu, Show more Xhosa and Zulu iqaba, heathen, uncultured or ignorant person: singular prefix i- + qaba (plural amaqaba, vocative qaba), probably development of earlier Xhosa sense ‘person who wears traditional dress consisting of a blanket reddened with ochre’, from qaba (v.) paint, smear (cf. iqabane). For notes on plural forms, see ama- and i-.
A person (usually from a rural area) who adheres to traditional customs and beliefs. See also red noun.
1949 L. Hunter Afr. Dawn 16One of the first people to be converted was the Chief’s mother and in order to distinguish herself from the Amaqaba, she put aside her red blankets and adopted European dress.
1949 L. Hunter Afr. Dawn 17He, who had once been a Qaba, was now a deacon of the church.
1962 W.D. Hammond-Tooke Bhaca Soc. 64Christians are called by pagans amakholwa (believers)..while pagans are referred to as amaqaba (those smeared with red ochre).
[1974 J. Broster in S. Afr. Panorama Dec. 38Blacks who wear tribal beadwork and dress are called in Xhosa ‘amaQaba’, a name which signifies that they worship their ancestral spirits...In everyday life those who adhere to this belief are recognised by the red ochre or clay which they apply to body, blankets and clothing.]
1976 Daily Dispatch 20 Aug. (Suppl.) 6Amaqaba, the red-blankets, were a people of good discipline.
1987 Pace May 4The mlungu missionaries came to darkest Africa to civilise the qabas.
1987 L. Nkosi Mating Birds 86‘She had a mouth painted red and she was smoking a cigarette. I said to her, are you not afraid your mouth will catch fire?’...‘She said, shut your mouth, you pagan woman! That’s what she said. She called me iqaba!’
A person (usually from a rural area) who adheres to traditional customs and beliefs.

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