Of Months and Their Names

Hello September

Gunyana

September in the Shona language is Gunyana. Shona is one of the three main languages spoken in Zimbabwe. I don’t know what Gunyana means its just a word, maybe but when those who were naming names did it I am sure they had their reasons but they never wrote it down, taking with them, that knowledge and many other things……

I know the origins of names of the month in the English language and a Google search can easily find your answers if you don’t know, but hey, I got you. Let me  briefly list them:

month names

January – from  Januarius  meaning month of Janus the Roman god who presided over doors and beginnings.

February –  februarius, from februa, the name of a purification feast held in this month

MarchMartius from Mars Roman god of war

April – from Latin Aprillis, the fourth month of the ancient Roman calendar.

May – named after Maia a greek goddesss daughter of Atlas and Hermes

June – named after the ancient Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of marriage and childbirth

July – renamed in honour of Julius Caesar but before that it was named Quintilis meaning fifth.

Augustrenamed to honour Augustus Ceasar but before that it was Sextilis meaning sixth

Septemberfrom the Latin septem, meaning seven. September used to be the seventh month of the year.

Octoberocto is the Latin for ‘eight’

Novembernovem, ‘nine’.

December – from decem, ‘ten’

And if you didn’t know here’s a fun fact: There used to be only 10 months in the year, namely Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December…..

Funny thing though, actually, its not funny at all, its alarming that I don’t know the origins and meanings or why the months in our Shona language are called what they are called or who even named them that, what were they celebrating or honouring?

Ndira (January)

Kukadzi (February)

Kurume (March)

Kubvumbi (April)

Chivabvu (May)

Chikumi (June)

Chikunguru (July)

Nyamavhuvhu (August)

Gunyana (September)

Gumiguru (October)

Mbudzi (November)

Zvita (December)

As a child I was taught/told at shool that the name Nyamavhuvhu is a fusion of the Shona word Nyama (Meat) and Vhu (sand) because back in the day, when people used to preserve their meat by drying it in the sun, making a sort of biltong, the August batch  would end up sandy, nyama yazara mavhu (meat full of sand) since August is a very windy month this side of the hemisphere, coincidentally, -vhuvhu is derivative from vhuvhuta an adjective which describes A Gust of wind (I didn’t even see what I did there until much later…… Life is littered with strange coincidences)

Gumiguru – Gumi is the number ten when counting in Shona

The word mbudzi (from the month of November) means goat but what about a goat? Is November the month of the goat?

Here’s what I do know about November, that it is taboo to hold marriages or have Marooro/lobola ceremonies (you can read about this ceremony here Of Marooro), or have any form of traditional gatherings as it is a month of rest for the ancestral spirits.

What are the months and origins of their names in your mother language?

I just had a scary thought that we might be the generation that loses itself because we forgot where we come from or how we got here, do we even know where here is anyway?

And that is why I write…..

#MyAfricaMyWords

~B

Day 3 of my blog everyday challenge.

UPDATES:

Gunyana – as I have been informed by a blogging friend also doing the blog everyday challenge RukuTitus:

Let this Gunyana/ September baby tell you what Gunyana means. Gunyana is a time of baby birds (chicks). There is no other month you will find chicks in abundance. Not sure of the prefix Gu- but the stem -nyana means a young one of a bird in Shona.

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