Madimikira| 28 idioms from the 1968 novel ‘Tambaoga Mwanangu’

After reading China manenji hachifambisi I wrote on idioms (madimikira) that the writer, Mordikai A. Hamutyinei, used in the story. I decided to do the same while reading Tambaoga mwanangu. Tambaoga mwanangu is a Shona novel written by Giles Kuimba, and was first published in 1968. Set in ancient times, it is a story about a teenage boy, a murdered king, greed, tenacity and justice.

The writer works with a variety of language expressions so as to excite the reader’s imagination and breathe more life to the story. These expressions include madimikira. I like that some idioms are used more than once. This means the reader gets to have many examples of usage of an idiom, creating the opportunity to understand it better.

Below are some of the madimikira I came across as I read the book. Each of them is given together with an explanation and how it was applied by the writer.

  1. akatisiya
  2. akayamwa mukaka akaguta
  3. hana yakazunguzika
  4. iri munzeve
  5. kubata hana
  6. kubata maoko
  7. kubayira zanhi
  8. kuchengeta mashoko muhana
  9. kufira mafufu segonzo
  10. kufuga rake ega
  11. kuisa maoko
  12. kuisa musana kupfumvu
  13. kuita gudo rafira muchibage
  14. kuita gumi rakadya vaviri
  15. kumirira nemeso matsvuku
  16. kuoma mbabvu
  17. kupona nepaburi retsono
  18. kurohwa nehana
  19. kurova guva
  20. kurovera matama pasi
  21. kurovera mwoyo padombo
  22. kusava nemuromo
  23. kushaya pfungwa
  24. kusiyira/ kusiyirwa zamu
  25. kutura mafemo
  26. kutwasanudza makumbo
  27. kuva nemwoyo mutete
  28. rutsoka ndibatsire

1. akatisiya

Akafa.

They died.

Once everyone was settled, VaPfumojena announced the king’s death. “Ndiri kureva kuti Mambo Mupakaviri akatisiya. Akafuga rake ega.”

2. akayamwa mukaka akaguta

Akasimba. Akagwinya.

Strong. Fit.

The thought of venturing into the jungle terrified VaMombeshora , but he later agreed because he had confidence and found comfort in VaDambanemhuka, whom he was to go with. VaDambanemhuka, a skilful hunter, vakanga vari murume akagwinya, akayamwa mukaka akaguta.

3. hana yakazunguzika

Akanga avhundutswa, asisina kugadzikana.

He was deeply shaken.

The king’s councilmen agreed to send for a troop of soldiers who would guard their precinct. It was on the morning of this trip that some of them woke up to find on each of their doorsteps, a spear placed in a circle of blood. VaPfumojena saw that VaZinwamhanga was really shaken by the incident. Vakaona kuti zvechokwadi hana yaVaZinwamhanga yakanga yazunguzika chaizvo.

4. iri munzeve

Kubvumira kuti zvataurwa zvanzwikwa nekunzwisisika.

An acknowledgement that one has been paying attention to what is being said and has understood the matter at hand.

VaZinwamhanga was attentive while VaTakanongwa expressed her fears regarding the king’s nonreturn. “Aiwa, iri munzeve, vakweguru. Yanzwika.”

5. kubata hana

variations: kusimbisa hana, kudzikamisa hana

Kuzvidzikamisa kuti usavhundukire zvaunenge wanzwa kana kuona. Kana kuti kungwarira mashoko aunotaura kana zviito zvako, kuti usafandanure zvivande.

Being calm, as opposed to being unruffled or frightened by something you have experienced, seen or heard. Perhaps this is inspired by the idea of trying to steady the heart, since fright often results in the heart beating faster. Alternatively, it means being careful and prudent in one’s speech or actions, especially in order to keep something confidential.

VaMombeshora cautioned his fellow councilmen that what he was about to tell them was a very grave matter, “Nyaya iyi haisi nyaya diki, madzishe saka nemiwo simbisai hana dzenyu kuitira kuti tigonyatsofunga zvakanaka mushure.”

VaDambenemhuka, tried to get VaMombeshora to calm down. “Bata hana, Mombeshora! Bata hana kani! Dzikama!

VaZinwamhanga reminded the other councilmen about the sensitivity around matters of the king’s court, “Mose munoziva zvinoitwa nyaya dzemumuzinda, saka munofanira kubata hana dzenyu.”

VaZinwamhanga explained to the gathering that what he was about to tell them was not to be known by anyone else other than those present. “Imi chete vomumuzinda ndimi munofanira kuiziva. Ndinokukumbirai mose kuti mudzikamise hana dzenyu. Munofanira kuyeuka kuti muri mumuzinda. Zvomumuzinda ndezvomumuzinda, zvokunze ndezvokunze.”

6. kubata maoko

Kunyaradza munhu anenge ashaikirwa nehama yake. Patsika dzechivanhu, izvi zvinofambirana nekumhorosa munhu muruoko kana kutaura kuti “nematambudziko/ nenhamo/ nedzinoparadza.”

To offer condolences.

VaPfumojena shared news of the king’s death. Vamwe vakasimuka kuti vabate maoko. VaPfumojena vakavagarisa pasi. “Muchabata zvenyu maoko mushure momusangano uno.

7. kubayira zanhi

Kurayira.

To give advice.

As the king’s son, Tambaoga was taught a lot of things from the time he was a small boy. He then remembered something his father had told him once, “Tambaoga, zvimwe rimwe zuva uchava mambowo sezvandiri iye zvino. Saka rega ndikubayire zanhi mwanangu. Usazonyanye kuvimba navanhu kunyange ani naani zvake.”

8. kuchengeta mashoko muhana

Kusataurira kana munhu zvaunenge wanzwa.

To keep information confidential.

VaPfumojena explained the matter to Chigiya and Chiroodza, shedding light on why their presence had been requested. “Handina nguva yekutsanangura zvizhinji. Muchazvinzwa mangwana. Munofanira kuchengeta mashoko aya muhana dzenyu chete. Hakuna kumwe kwaanofanira kusvika. Mambo hakusisina. Mambo akapondwa.

9. kufira mafufu segonzo

Kutamburira chinhu, kana kuita zvine njodzi, asi zvichizoshaya chimuko.

To invest time and effort in something, or take a risk that ultimately does not pay off.

Everyone was shocked when the real murderer was revealed. This person had murdered the king because of coveting what did not belong to them. Because of all that they had done now they were dead too. So vakafira mafufu segonzo.

10. kufuga rake ega

Kufa.

To die.

Once everyone was settled, VaPfumojena announced the king’s death. “Ndiri kureva kuti Mambo Mupakaviri akatisiya. Akafuga rake ega.”

11. kuisa maoko

Kukwazisa zvine chiremera, kune kuuchira.

A formal greeting, usually accompanied by clapping.

It was evening, and Tamboaga joined the other village men at their meeting place. Akasvika ndokuuchira… Makurukota paakamuona nokunzwa kuuchira kwake, akauchirawo achiti, “Svikai zvenyu Mhukahuru! Svikai Mhofuyomukono! Svikai jinda reShava! Jinda ravaHera!” Tambaoga akagara pachigaro chake chamazuva ose ndokubva aisa maoko, “Maoko edu madzishe.”

12. kuisa musana kupfumvu

kushaya hanya nenjodzi inogona kungokuwira.

To disregard or ignore possible harm.

VaDambanemhuka simply watched as Tambaoga shot arrows at VaMombeshora who was running and wailing. Kubvira musi wavakazvarwa, (VaDambanemhuka) havana kumboisa musana kupfumvu. While he was scared too, he realised that Tambaoga had no intention of killing VaMombeshora,

13. kuita gudo rafira muchibage

Kutamburira chinhu, kana kuita zvine njodzi, asi zvichizoshaya chimuko.

To invest time and effort in something, or take a risk that ultimately does not pay off.

Everyone was shocked when the real murderer was revealed. This person had murdered the king because of coveting what did not belong to them. Because of all that they had done now they were dead too. So vakafira mafufu segonzo. Vakaita gudo rafira muchibage.

14. kuita gumi rakadya vaviri

kuwira pasi muri murwi.

To fall to the ground one person over another.

Tambaoga emerged from behind the door and attacked the intruder who had entered his sleeping quarters. Vakamonerana naTambaoga. Tambaoga akagumha sasa negumbo ndokubva rapfiga pakare ndiye gumi rakadya vaviri.

15. kumirira nemeso matsvuku

kumirira chinhu netarisiro yakakura.

To eagerly await something.

After the gathering was informed that the murderer was to be brought before them, they stopped crying; perplexed, confused, and eager to see whom it was. Vanhu vose vakamirira nameso matsvuku.

16. kuoma mbabvu

Kuseka zvakanyanya.

To laugh enthusiastically and energetically.

VaMombeshora continued to run and wail, his backside now exposed after his back skin cloth had come off. Tambaoga akabva aoma zvake mbabvu nokuseka.

17. kupona nepaburi retsono.

Kupunyuka nyatwa. Kupotsa padiki wawirwa nenjodzi.

To narrowly escape.

After Tambaoga pointed an arrow at VaZinwamhanga, scaring him to death, the two later parted ways amicably. Nechemumwoyo VaZinwamhanga vakati, “Chokwadi ndapona napaburi retsono.

18. kurohwa nehana

Kuvhunduka kana kuva nekutya kukuru.

To panic, be frightened or alarmed.

VaTakanongwa told her fellow wives that she was very concerned that days had passed and the king had still not returned home. “Ini zvabva zvandirovesa nehana,” she said.

VaZinwamhanga told his fellow councilmen about how the king’s wives had approached him to discuss the matter of the missing king. “Naivowo (vakadzi vamambo) vave kurohwa nehana.”

VaDambanemhuka was worried that they would raise unnecessary alarm if they went about asking people about the king. “Tikanobvunza mumisha yavanhu, tinobva tarovesa hana dzavanhu.”

Chiroodza explained to Tambaoga the reason for his arrest and tried to calm him down. “Usashamiswe zvako kana kurohwa nehana,” he said.

VaDambanemhuka looked at VaMombeshora who had stopped dead in his tracks, and asked him what was going on. VaMombeshora did not respond, and then, navowo (VaDambanemhuka) vakatarisa pasi vakarohwa nehana.

When VaMombeshora began to panic, the way VaZinwamhanga looked at him kwaiva kokudzvokora kwokutya pamwechete nokurohwa nehana.

19. kurova guva

Mutsika dzechivanhu, iri ibira rinoitwa papera gore mushure mekunge munhu afa. Mufi anobikirwa doro kuti mweya wake udzoke mumusha kuzochengeta mhuri yake.

In indigenous religion in Zimbabwe, it is believed that when a person dies his spirit wanders about until it is given permission to come back and protect its children and descendants. This is marked by a libation ritual known as ‘kurova guva.’

VaZinwamhanga went to ‘propose’ to VaTakanongwa. Since he was younger brother to the late king, he wanted to become her husband once all rituals relating to her late husband had been completed. “Hongu nguva yokurova guva haisati yasvika. Pachine zvirango zvizhinji kwazvo zvinofanira kuitwa asi ini ndini ndega munin’ina wake mumusha muno.”

VaPfumojena made it known that it was clear that Tambaoga was successor to the king, and that his coronation would take place once all formalities and rituals relating to the late king had been completed. “Zuva rake rokugadzwa umambo richasvika kana tapedza zvose zvinofanira kugadzirwa mushure mokuvigwa pamwe nokurohwa kweguva ramambo.”

20. kurovera matama pasi

Kurara.

To lie down and sleep.

It was evening and the village men were gathered at their meeting place. After they finished eating their evening meal Tambaoga bade farewell to the rest of the men, “Madzishe, ini chiregai ndimbonorovera matama pasi. Ndaneta nokumira kwandanga ndakaita kumadziva.

21. kurovera mwoyo padombo

Kuzvipira pane zvakaoma.

To accept a difficult or unpleasant situation.

Giles Kuimba is also the author of Gehena harina moto. He decided to take on the arduous task of writing yet another book. According to the publisher, “Giles akabva arovera mwoyo padombo kuti anyorezve bhuku rinonakidza serokutanga kana kutopfuura. Nokudaro akanyora gwaro rino -‘Tambaoga Mwanangu’.

22. kusava nemuromo

Kusava nezvaungataure kana kupikisa pamusoro pechinhu.

To have no influence on a decision.

VaPfumojena stated that it was clear and undebatable that Tambaoga was successor to the king. “Tose pano hatina muromo wokubvunza kuti umambo ndohwani; tinoziva muridzi wahwo.”

23. kushaya pfungwa

Kuita zvinhu zvisina kuchenjera.

To be senseless.

VaTakanongwa wondered why the king, given his position, would leave home and not return. “Zvino naiyewo murume mukuru hakusi kushaya pfungwa here ikoko?”

24. kusiyira/ kusiyirwa zamu

Kutevedzana nemumwe pakuzvarwa. Anosiyira ndiye mukuru; anosiyirwa ndiye muduku.

To be siblings, one born before another ( anosiyira), and one born after another (anosiyirwa).

.

Tambaoga stood before the gathering being questioned by his uncle VaZinwamhanga, who was younger brother to the king. ” …Baba wako mukoma wangu, mwana wamai vangu, akandisyira zamu

25. kutura mafemo

Kuzorora.

Breaking to rest after performing a physically draining task. Alternatively, it is used to describe the act of taking a deep sigh.

Tambaoga struggled uphill with his father’s body on his back, then he decided to take a break, “Chimboregai ndimbotura mafemo,” he said as if he was speaking to his father.

VaZinwamhanga after having been quiet for some time vakataura mushure mekunge vambotura mafemo somunhu akanga ane zvinomunetsa asi asingadi kutaurira vamwe.

After VaMombeshora was asked to share his story he took some time to respond, as if he was in deep thought. Vakatura mafemo ndokuzoti, “Tanga tadii kumbonyarara nyaya iyi Zinwamhanga?”

The other councilmen were puzzled, and listened to VaDambanemhuka as he narrated what had happened. When VaDambanemhuka had finished, VaZinwamhanga vakatura mafemo ndokuti, Hona, Pfumojena, nyaya iyi yakura. Tambaoga akaramba ai musango hapana angamutsike…

VaZinwamhanga was gripped by fear and shook uncontrollably. After Tambaoga assured him that he would not hurt him, VaZinwamhanga vakatura mafemo.

26. kutwasanudza makumbo

Kumbofamba-famba mushure mekunge wambogara kwenguva refu.

To go for a short walk especially after sitting for a long time.

While VaPfumojena agreed that something had to be done about the king, he pointed out that no-one had any idea which way the king had gone. “Akangotaura chete kuti achambofamba-famba zvake achitasanudza makumbo.

VaPfumojena went on further to explain the circumstances surrounding the king’s death. “Akasiya ati, “Ndichambonotwasanudza makumbo ndichifamba-famba zvangu.

27. kuva nemwoyo mutete

Kuva munhu anotya, kana anokurirwa nezvinhu zvinotyisa.

To be nervous and afraid.

Tambaoga contemplated killing his uncle but quickly decided against it because his mother was present. Vanhukadzi vane mwoyo mitete nokuti havangazvikanganwi muupenyu hwavo hwose.

28. rutsoka ndibatsire

variations: chitsoka ndiyamure, chitsoka ndibereke.

Kumhanyisa uchitiza.

To run as fast as you can.

After Tamboga spotted the mystery man in the dark cave, he drew closer to the man and leapt onto him. The man freed himself from Tambaoga and ran for dear life. Rutsoka ndibatsire! Kana munhu achinge ava kutiza rufu anoita mapapiro.

Tambaoga shot an arrow at VaMombeshora. VaMombeshora, on seeing this arrow, vakati pasi bhii kuwa. Parapata parapata, ndiye nyamu kumuka zvakare ndokubva vati chitsoka ndiyamure.

Tambaoga shot the third arrow which landed on the ground in front of VaMombeshora who was still running and wailing. VaMombeshora failed to dodge this arrow; he stepped on it, then crashed to the ground. Vakamboumburuka ndokubva vamuka, ndokuti zvakare, chitsoka ndibereke.


Tambaoga mwanangu is a Shona novel written by Giles Kuimba, first published in 1968. The explanations given are based on my understanding of the context in which the idioms are used, and are given in no professional or expert capacity. 

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