Wear your heritage close to your heart

by Jason Forbes

What does being South African mean to you? For us, it is about more than just belonging to a rich landscape beneath a bold flag. We are a colourful people, differences and nuances abound, but ultimately, we are unified by a love for our nation. Heritage Day should be about acknowledging the past to imagine a better future together. It’s also about declaring the things which define us, and build into the society we are so lucky to live in.

At me·mi we believe that individuals should be proud to embrace who they are and celebrate their unique heritage. This Heritage Day we want to recognise that identity is formed and expressed in different ways and, in particular, any number of languages.

What’s in a name?

In South Africa we have 11 official languages! That’s a lot to choose from for one nation. Each is rich and interesting, and adds a crucial flavour to the SA melting pot. Whether your mother tongue is IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, English or Tshivenda, names carry significance.

Along with languages, we also have a number of cultures which have different naming traditions. Did you know that in IsiZulu culture, for example, names are given according to the situation of the family that the child is born into? For example, if a daughter is born to them that they feel is their last, she may be called Zanele, meaning ‘enough’. Similarly, the Tswana name Kefilwe which means “I was given”, recognising the baby as a gift and expressing gratitude.

What does your name say about where you come from? Words all have meaning, of course, but names have sentiment too. They link us to our past and help pave the way for who we might become. Jewellery bearing names or initials is deeply personal, and can help us define our identity. That’s why we believe that everyone should be able to create meaningful pieces which celebrate their name, their culture, and their language.

Our elegant name necklaces are personalised with any name or phrase in any language, classic in design and forged from gold or silver. Choose your design, share your name with us, and soon you could be representing your culture with elegance.

When “I love you” isn’t enough

There are words and phrases in every language that cannot be properly translated into English. Every culture has pieces of language which do not have an equivalent. Trying to move them out of one tongue into another often results in their meaning being lost.

For example, the Afrikaans expression husse met lang ore refers to an imaginary creature. There is no accurate expression of this in other languages. It’s a phrase which young Afrikaans speaking children will have received from their parents when asking questions that they shouldn’t. Many others have childhood experiences with phrases attached, what are yours?

Or how about the many different ways to say “I love you” in different South African languages?

  • IsiXhosa: Ndiyakuthanda
  • IsiNdebele: Niyakutanda
  • Sesotho: Ke a go rata
  • Xitsonga: Ndzakurhandza
  • SiSwati: Ngiyakutsandza

Sometimes we want jewellery to communicate more than who we are. There are occasions when we want it to give words of celebration or strength each time it is worn. We’ve designed the hidden message necklace to do just that, so that love or hope can be carried close to the heart.

Whether you want to speak your Xitsonga truth and express Ndzakurhandza, or assure your IsiNdebele partner that Niyakutande, we would delight in suspending your message in beautiful jewellery.

Happy Heritage Day, SA!