My friend from college, Munny, is visiting this week, she stopped by on a many-month tour of southern Africa. She came to my English Clubs today which was fun because although the students were really shy and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to talk to her and ask her questions as much as I would have liked, they did somewhat. When she said she is from Mississippi one boy said, “oh, isn’t that a river?” which I found surprising. And she told them a Mississippi joke which, after a few retellings in a mixture of English and Portuguese, they found pretty funny. She told them about her travels, including visiting Robben Island, the famous prison on an island off the coast of Cape Town, where many political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were kept during the times of apartheid. And shockingly, not a single one of my English Club participants knew what it was.
Some of the boys told me the story of how Inharrime got its name. Apparently Vasco da Gama got caught in a storm once, so came into Inharrime via the lagoon. When he arrived, he asked what the name of the place was. Apparently the locals thought he was asking about the crocodiles (which there allegedly used to be many of) and so they said “it’s a crocodile” in Txopi, the local language, and it sounded like Inharrime. I later asked my Txopi teacher and he told me the same story, but the animal was buffalo. I’ll have to keep asking around. But fascinating. I asked why many towns (and our province) start with the sound “eenyah” (written: Inh-). They explained that “ee” refers to something, like “it is…” or “this is…” and many of the towns in the province were named under similar circumstances, the Portuguese misunderstanding to what the locals were referring. Once again, I am learning more than ever before, all while my students get to practice their English!
Today I had my first Txopi lesson! Finally! My head hurt afterward from everything I had learned and all the new sounds I was trying to make. And my tutor kept trying, without much success, to get me to make the whistling sound. But it was fun and I am excited to learn!