for Choir and Voice transcribed from the embodied knowledge of Dr Andile Khumalo by JIWE Publishers

This is a Nguni community song sung by the bridal party accompanying the bride to her groom’s home. The song can be found mainly in both Zulu and Xhosa cultures. The direct translation of the songs means ‘The charm of a Man is his cattle’. In many African cultures owning cattle was representative of wealth and livestock were often used as a negotiating asset for a young man to secure a wife from her family in a form of Lobola (bride-price) negotiations.

Many traditional Zulu and Xhosa wedding songs are imbued with lessons, advice, warnings and messages of encouragement for newlyweds to guide them in their future married life. Ubuhle bendoda zinkomo zayo is sung by the bridal party to remind the bride that she must not forget that the man’s attractiveness or handsomeness is measured by the cattle that he offered as her lobola; the song continues to warn her that ‘Uzuziphathe kakuhle emzini wakho ntombazana’ meaning she must behave well in her new home.

In this particular arrangement, a choral choir with piano accompaniment sings the song and it is usually sung in choral competitions as Isitibili. In the new arrangements of traditional songs, any instrumentation can accompany the song as long it does not take away the authenticity and meaning of song.