Karl Beath Photography ©

Local Names of Places in the AmaNgwane Region

Local names of places, valleys, caves, passes and peaks in the region sometimes have significant and interesting meanings which are not always apparent to visitors. And, as is often the case, some of the local names have been lost to the outside world, or have been incorrectly labelled on the hiking maps.

Locals often have a different outlook on the naming of places, having less of a need to name each and every peak, pass, cave and other features, as hikers do. Their names are often more broadly applied, and may refer to an area, rather than a specific peak, for example. Their names may also be oriented around their traditional practices such as grazing cattle.

Ncedamabutho, for example, refers to the entire ridge incorporating the Mnweni Needles, Mponjwane and the Rockeries, rather than a specific peak. It is in that area that the AmaNgwane used to train and prepare for battle, which is the origin of the meaning of the name. What hikers know as Rockeries Pass they call Nguza (a reference to the prominent spring halfway up the pass, where water gushes from a hole in the rocks even in winter). But what about the nearby Nguza Pass marked on the maps you may ask? The locals would reply that both passes are called Nguza...

local names vs map names

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