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10.9.1 South Africa Culture: What is the origin of the word ``toyi-toyi''?




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This article is from the South Africa FAQ, by Scott Hazelhurst scott@cs.wits.ac.za with numerous contributions by others.

10.9.1 South Africa Culture: What is the origin of the word ``toyi-toyi''?



From: colin@aardvark.ru.ac.za (Colin Muller)
Subject: Re: Origin of Toyi Toyi
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 1994 14:33:12 GMT

In article <pwade.161.2DF49AB5@nuustak.csir.co.za> pwade@nuustak.csir.co.za (Pe
ter Wade) writes:
>From: pwade@nuustak.csir.co.za (Peter Wade)
>Subject: Origin of Toyi Toyi
>Date: Tue, 7 Jun 1994 16:05:09 GMT
>Does anyone know what the origin and original meaning of Toyi-Toyi is ?
>

No. It was probably introduced into S. Afr. by ANC exiles
returning from military training in Zimbabwe or Eastern Europe.
The original source language is unknown, but the expression may
be in some way related to the following Shona ideophones: 'tori
tori', said of an insect's hopping and an exhausted person's
running; and 'to-oto to-oto', said of an exhausted person's
running. This is pure guesswork, however, and there are
other possibilities.

Here are some other possibilities (other people's guesses):

Ben Maclennan, _A Proper Degree of Terror_, 1986, p.193, writing
of the frontier war of 1818-19:
'They [_sc._ the Xhosa] advanced almost to the muzzles of the
British guns...Some of them, shouting "Tayi! Tayi!" as they ran -
the word they had been taught by Nxele to use as a charm against
all manner of evil - actually reached the cannon.'

1988 P. Baneshik in _Sunday Star_ 7 Aug.:
The words [toi-toi] were a simple verbalisation of the' sound
made by people of Eastern European cultures when spitting ('Ptui-
ptui!') to ward off the 'evil eye'. Since many ballet dancers and
ballet conventions stem from those climes, the expression became
common among dancers when wishing fellows good luck. (Similar to
the other theatrical 'good luck' wish: 'Break a leg!')...'Toyi
toyi' is the name of a form of black protest dance, in which
phalanxes of protesters chant while prancing forward and punching
the air with the right fist in rhythm with the chant.'

1990 _Sunday Times_ 18 Feb. p.21:
'My UDF source said: 'The toyi-toyi was introduced to
townships..by trained ANC infiltrators from up north. It simply
means toying - or practising - the military drill. In the
guerilla training camps it is performed with military precision
and discipline, but locally it has evolved as a dance aimed at
pepping up the mood of militant youths.''

1993 J. Maluleke in _Drum_ Aug. p.32:
'The toyi-toyi was first performed inside South Africa in a
rudimentary fashion in 1979 during the launch of Cosas. _Ibid._
33 The toyi-toyi has moved from its purpose as a physical
training exercise in the emaGojini [mountains] to the dynamic
freedom dance of the 90s...The toyi-toyi, according to [Mkhululi]
Dliwayo, means in Ndebele 'moving forward while remaining in one
place'.'

-Colin
<Pre>
Colin Muller (colin@aardvark.ru.ac.za) |\ - /|
Dictionary Unit for South African English, / \| |/ \
Rhodes University, 6140 Grahamstown, South Africa | o o |
[But my views are mine, not my employers'.] | /| |\ |
Phone: 0461-318107 Fax: 0461-25642 |,,| `;' |,,|


 

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