One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1(among Xhosa-speaking people) a young man who has gone through initiation but is not yet married.
- ‘‘Thank you umfaan,’ he said, taking off his old shoes and placing the new ones gently on his feet.’
- ‘The train was led by an umfaan, while at the back the ` guard’ sang along to the radio balanced on his head.’
- ‘The umfaans meantime collected wood and water and lit fires by using fire-drills worked between the palms of their hands.’
- ‘Zulu kraals were dotted about, umfaans nudged cows out of the way and the dramatic Drakensberg Escarpment took over the horizon.’
- ‘Sometimes at night, I listened to umfaans’ hullabaloo, while they jogged past our hedge, returning from stick-fights in the valley off Old Mill Way.’
- 1.1 (among Zulu-speaking people) a boy.
- 1.2offensive A black male domestic servant.
From Zulu and Xhosa umfana.
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