Where the word igali (shack) comes from

October 7, 2013 § 2 Comments

If you are from East London and you’re Xhosa speaking, you would have heard of the word igali. It is what our brothers and sisters from KZN and other such northern parts call umkhukhu and what our melanin disadvantaged brothers and sisters call shacks.

Where on earth did the word igali come from? During the apartheid era building a shack was illegal. When they popped up, police would be sent to break them down. Many people had to watch as authorities broke their homes down. Even though the government of the day never made provisions for them to have homes, they still destroyed the ones these struggling people made for themselves.

Anyway, when the policemen came, as expected in the day, they were white and would dismantle the homes. Most of the people were uneducated and could not speak English. When the cops were about to break down their properties they would say, “This is illegal!”

Sometimes people would come back from work to find that they no longer had homes. They would wonder what happened. Those who were there to witness as their own homes were destroyed would respond by saying, “Athe amapolisa ligali kaloku,” “The police said that ligali.”

When the cops said, “illegal,” what they heard was “igali”. This is where the word igali (shack).

And here is something extra, if you want to know where the term towning comes from, click here.

§ 2 Responses to Where the word igali (shack) comes from

  • bathandwa says:

    ha ha ha ha ha ha wow I have a 65 year old grandmother, I’m sure she doesn’t know the origin of “igali” and we even go further and call it ‘ighetto’ .. lol wow I love my home. Dude you just have this way of making me miss home with these pieces zakho. So good!

  • Mnox says:

    It’s the reason why we have post offices in the hood. Onoposi were not coping…lol

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