dagga and toyi-toyi (reprise)

Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy at BAYLOR.EDU
Tue Dec 7 00:49:57 UTC 1999

Don't know what happened to my dagga and toyi-toyi message, so here's
the gist of what I said before plus a little more (now that I'm in my
ofc w/ the dictionary):

Dagga (gg = voiceless velar fricative) is marijuana.  That's the
standard term for it in South Africa.  It comes from Afrikaans and
eventually back from Khoikhoi 'dachab'.  First recorded use of this is
1670--then spelt 'dacha', but the Afrikanerisation of the term gives it
the g's.

Toyi-toyi (noun or verb) is a kind of protest dance.  You take these
kind of jogging-hopping steps, usually going around in a circle or in a
long march of people, usually while waving placards (or, if it's the
Inkatha Freedom Party marching, spears) and/or singing a protest song or
chanting a slogan.  The DSAEHP says that the source language is
uncertain--it was brought back to SA by ANC exiles who had been in
Zimbabwe, where the word also exists in Shona and Ndebele.  First use in
DSAEHP is 1985.  By 1993, when I moved there, it was in widespread use.
The comic strip "Madam and Eve" often makes fun of white people's
inability to toyi-toyi.

For good measure, here's the DSAEHP definition:

"A quasi-militaristic dance-step characterized by high-stepping
movements, performed either on the spot or while moving slowly forwards,
usu. by participants in (predominantly black) protest gatherings or
marches, and accompanied by chanting, singing, and the shouting of

If you get another e-mail from me with basically the same info, blame my
server, I suppose.

Lynne, who can't toyi-toyi


M. Lynne Murphy, Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English, Baylor University
PO Box 97404, Waco, TX 76798 USA
Phone:  254-710-6983     Fax:  254-710-3894

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