The world is a big and small place, all at the same time. Beyond the geography, it is vast in diversity. The Internet and means of transport obliterated time and geographic divides. We now get to meet more people from places and cultures than generations before us. As a result, we’re all talking but don’t always understand each other. This makes creating understanding in diversity critical.
Writing about cultural intelligence in teams and leadership brought a memory back. I don’t know why some weird things happen to me in public spaces. I seem to have a few interesting encounters with people every now and then.
Once a guy responsible for cleaning bathrooms at one of my favourite malls started telling me about his relationship problems. Talk about awkward…
On another day, a waitress called me out… This post is not about all these incidents though. Let me get back…
I’m humbled to sit around a table with people who do things that matter.
Our discussions are on celebrating diversity and dealing with barriers. The context: South Africa.
Despite what has been done here (and other places around the world) there’s still more to be done.
Change always starts with a few and I choose to be a part.
As with many languages, it evolves. You might find that Zulu spoken in Johannesburg may have words or phrases picked up from other cultures and languages. Zulu spoken in Kwazulu Natal is likely to be less tainted. However, it is not so different that commmunication cannot taken place. Depending on your attitude, language can a barrier or bridge.
One of the best ways to cross cultural barriers and be citizen of the world is to learn a langugage. You don’t necessarily need to master it, but learning and sepaking a little of it warms the hearts of those you engage.
Learning a little a language could help you win over the heart of someone who speaks it. Who knows, it might save you one day. There’s no harm in learning little phrases; you have more to gain than lose. Learning to speak someone’s language says:
- “I want to communicate with you…”
- “Connecting with you is not an afterthought…”
- “I’m willing to enter your world…”
- “I’m interested in you…”
- “I see you…”
Wouldn’t the world be better if we chose to find little ways to build bridges? From learning a language and talking to each other… You could ask poeple about their world, by so doing you also invite them into your world. When we see how different and similar we are, we’re more mindful and the world becomes a better place.
I could share the typical greetings etc. but I thought it would be fun to learn this instead. So, here are some Zulu phrases:
Sleep here: Lala la
Sleep there: Lala le
Listen here: Lalela la
Sleep over there: Lalela le
Listen here, sleep over there: Lalela la, lalela le
Zulu 101 for my non-Zulu speaking friends. Simple, right?