Colonialism succeeded because we still call ourselves, our places and things the way they defined the difference between superior and inferior. They allocated superior names, colours and things to themselves and all inferior names, colours and things to us.
King William’s Town does not refer to King Ngqika, Ndlambe or Hintsa or any African for that matter. It cannot because they banned the reference to our royalty in the same way as the royalty, princes, princesses, Lords, queen and King in England. Our aristocrats were reduced to chiefs, this is very insulting to people who understand royalty like they were used to in England. A chief can be a chief- anything; the status is not reserved for royalty as that of Lord. In the English language we have a chief inspector, a chief engineer, a chief director, a chief ablution facilities manager etc. So the use of this title, much as it is a leadership title, it is not excusive as royalty should be.
There is another blemish to the reference “Chief” in the South African context stemming from the ANC originally, “comrade” is not more ANC as it is an SACP construct since they started cross-pollinating. During Chief Albert Luthuli’s rein as ANC president, leaders called each other and the Chief the way he was called, non-ANC people referred to members as those people of the chief. This reference was over-employed in exile for different reason (there are as many reasons for this Chief reference as there are people explaining it, mine is just one of them). Where is the blemish? The tenderpreneurs joined the ANC after 1994 and quickly learnt the “liberation lingo” and started calling every influential black person who had the potential to give them a tender “chief” so as to feel closer to them or pass as one with struggle credentials since this became a passport to get tenders.
In the household we tend to borrow these royal titles but use them in context, without corrupting their meanings. When you call your husband “my King” you mean there is no one above him in his jurisdiction, the household or your life.
Chiefs who had other chiefs under them where called paramount chiefs to avoid calling them King because there is only one King in the British Colony, the King of England, this is a status unbefitting of a mere African who reports to a British-imposed magistrate of his district.
Under the democratic government we are supposed to be free and the government is saying it recognises our royalty but they can still not come to themselves and refer to them as royalty. Round-about euphemisms are used to retain the colonial dictate of keeping them less than royalty which is by its nature above even the leadership produced by democratic structures.
I am saying we have a new order with the same thinking as the colonial master but with a different application. Royalty and all Lords and aristocrats (abantwana begazi) are now referred to as traditional leaders and not as royalty because they still do not qualify to be above the people who are called leaders of the people, of the state and of government. There are leaders up there and then there are traditional leaders here. If everybody is a leader and you are the other leaders or a leader with a prefix, then you either must be a leader of a special kind or a leader of a lesser category, that is why only you are under a category, you have been othered (feminist language).
Why don’t we call political leaders “political leaders”. The President is not called the chief minister (Zulu: Unduna-Nkulu