Columnists

Business language in the hood

Torn Apart: BOYD PHIRI
SINCE a Copperbelt University (CBU) third-year student received K15,000 from a bank for selling Mongu rice in an innovative way, every business person in the hood is trying to start selling the cereal.
If you find a witchdoctor selling Mongu rice instead of herbs, just know it’s got to do with the ultimate prize money from the bank.
Or if you see a minibus conductor shouting ‘Nakonde Rice’ instead of muyenda (are you travelling), do not assume he is due for a mental check-up.
Soon, some pastors will adopt ‘Mongu rice’ for their themes for miracle crusades as a way of attracting a fortune for their gatherings.
Imagine a pastor telling his congregants to dip their hands in their pockets to receive Mongu rice miracle.
Obviously if Mubiana Sinyinda hadn’t been eating Mongu rice, he wouldn’t have come up with a crazy way of advertising his rice at campus.
If you missed the humour in his adverts, here is one: “Have you been crushing on a moma or monk for a long time but you’ve not had the courage to let them know? Are you a Bungwe or Lumpeni who wants to be a mojo? Are you a sophomore, masadi, mafoshi or mafishi who is still single? Mongu rice will give you the courage and energy that you need to approach your crush.”
Yes, the art of selling can change the fortunes of any business person willing to go a step further in attracting customers, and if you have potential customers going through all kinds of problems, you’ve got to change the language.
Funny enough, this art of selling is not exclusive to Mongu rice and the person behind the concept. You hear similar advertising gimmicks everywhere you find people selling all kinds of commodities in the hood.
If you hear a woman inviting you to come and exploit her on tomatoes, don’t be surprised, she is just putting humour in her marketing strategy.
“Bwelani muninyengelele tomato pano. Mukaika mundiyo tomato iyi abwana bazamukondani maningi” a trader would say, meaning “come and exploit me on tomato here, when you add this tomato to your relish, your husband will love you more.”
You would hear someone saying “bwelani mugule pano natyola mtengo, ngati simuzagulako nizavitaya,” translated as “come and buy, I have reduced the price. I will throw them away if you don’t buy from me.”
Although in the hood throwing away something meant for sale would mean other people picking it, the trader uses his or her sense of humour to attract customers.
“Vachipa pano, nifuna kukomboka nikaone bana, makamaka batate babo. Bwelani muni kombose,” a lady selling bananas would say, meaning, “I have slashed prices here, I want to knock off to see my children at home, especially their father.”
For salaula (second-hand clothes) traders specialised in men’s jackets or trousers, they will go to the extent of volunteering to tell you who their VIP clients are.
“Ndine ni supplier baja ba manager bapa Zanaco, nika segula bale, nimaba pelekela ma shirts na ma trousers kuma office. Olo baja ma MPs, ndine ni supplier,” he would say.
It is the same for bricklayers, who will point at the biggest houses and shops in Lusaka and claim they built them.
“Ndine ni na manga nyumba yaba Edith Nawakwi na ba Enock Kavindele. Yaja ma flats paja ndine nina manga, pano muni ona, nina manga olo 30 manyumba ku Ibex Hill,” he says to convince a new client.
Not to be outdone are cikanda (Afro-polony) traders who claim they supply to all the major hotels and lodges in the capital city.
But whatever any of these people will tell you, the student who used Mongu rice as his mantra has beaten them all.
Mongu rice is the way to go, so it seems for now.
bjboydphiri@yahoo.com

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