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Why did we combine a Yoga retreat with a Xhosa language immersion?

by Craig Makhosi Charnock, UBuntu Bridge and YhoXhosa founder

Please note that this retreat is about learning Xhosa, and experiencing community in a different way. Any yoga, movement, or meditation classes are completely just an added option for participants, entirely optional and accessible for all levels! This is not a fancy yoga retreat! ???? Right, so ……

Yoga simply means union (or connection) through practice.

Any practice performed with a conscious intent to connect with our inner selves – whether through postures, breathing, acts of charity, studying of wise texts, surfing, singing or dancing – forges reunion with what was perceived to be separate and reminds us that we are actually One (Sibanye).

Separation is an experience of one layer of reality but the deeper truth is that we are more connected than we are separate. You can ask Einstein anyway. 😉

So what about the yoga of learning a language?

Bridges of Unity:
We were separated systematically by Apartheid (which literally means separation-ness) not just by skin-level visual symbols, but by language, allowing groups of people to become separated and divided by sight and sound.

Despite changes to legislation pertaining to race, language dynamics in South Africa are still a barrier between groups; a chasm and a separator. Status, education, privilege, success, superiority and dignity are bound up in language.

Inequality and disharmony are felt more strongly by those who do not speak the dominant languages and are more easily forgotten by others accustomed to their comforts and privileges.

If we do not build bridges and cross this language divide, the gaps in our society will continue to grow, and is that something we can really allow for our children?

Towards UBuntu:
UBuntu is an Nguni word that speaks to what it means to be human, and to the role and value of our relationships to a creator, to our ancestors, to nature, to family, friends, community, and ultimately to all the aspects of our Self.

As a language forms new synaptic and neural pathways in the brain, allowing a new way of being and of identifying, one can see more clearly through the veil of separation and difference that our society has imposed on us. Yoga practice has a similar effect.

Transformation & Belonging:
I have taught Xhosa in many contexts since 2006, following a personal calling and an intensive period spent in the rural villages learning Xhosa and connecting with the culture and ways of being of AmaXhosa.

I am deeply grateful to the people who welcomed and supported me there, across many different villages and hills, townships and cities, and UBuntu Bridge is entirely built upon the requests of others for me to continue this work.  

I attribute many positive transformations in myself, and my sense of belonging in and to South Africa, largely due to this process of learning indigenous languages and connecting as Mandela said, “to people’s hearts”. 

Community Invitation and Support:
Our presence in these villages brings income and joy to many of the local families, and in my personal capacity and as a collective, we have been invited on countless occasions to return.  By bringing culturally sensitive and respectful business to the doors of people, on their request, we are reversing the dynamics of old, and allowing people to create livelihood and prosperity without leaving their homes for the cities, or changing their culture, language, or way of life.

Improved Learning:`
Learning and health go hand in hand. Health allows learning and as we learn we make more healthy choices, opening our bodies, minds and hearts. By healing ourselves we heal our ancestors and the planet. It can be difficult work, but it is perhaps the most important and rewarding work we can do. Every ancient wisdom tradition offers glimmers of this truth and of the path to freedom, and so many of the answers we seek as a society have already been in existence for thousands of years. 

Together we Grow:
“To go quick, go alone. To go far, go together”,

as the oft quoted proverb goes.  Without doubt, it helps and is more fun to learn with others.  My journey of learning Xhosa has often been isolated, and at times lonely, often far from my home and the cultural comforts I grew up with.  

So it is with great excitement and gratitude that we look forward to welcoming you and sharing this journey, which gets easier, more fun and more influential, as more of us walk it.

Yho!! Xhosa!

Do let us know if you have any questions via comments below or email :)c

Craig Makhosi Charnock


Click here for the signup information page!

PLEASE NOTE: Bookings and early bird discounts are still available for group of 4 bookings until 19 May 2023, or by special request. 

P.S.  Need online course or coaching to improve your Xhosa?
Click here

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UBuntu Bridge partners with Dine with Khayelitsha

Dine night hangout
A Dine group gathered outside in warmer times!

As part of community development UBuntu Bridge has for a while been in partnership with Dine with Khayelitsha, which usually takes place the first Friday of every month. On the 15th July 2016 Dine will be hosting a slight different one called Dine with Khayelitsha-Mandela Day Dinner.  There will be discussions about how far South Africa has come as well as finding ways of moving forward as one.

Latest Dine with Khayelitsha – Mandela Day 2016

Special Edition – Mandela Day – Click for the event page!

Special Edition - Mandela Day - Click for the event page!

As our late Madiba said ”If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart”.

UBuntu Bridge lives by the words uttered by Mandela years ago and in honor and respect of his legacy which was to reconcile, one of the ways we can do that is by learning each others languages and cultures. 

Dine Athi
A Dine group enjoying Stellar Organics wine, home-cooked meals from KUBU Cuisine and heart conversation!

As part of the Dine With Khayelitsha on this day (15th July 2016) we seeks to be a bridge through language learning, cultural discussions and to make the experience of the diners one that’s authentic, exciting and educational. We believe that it is important that when you go to any township in order for you to fully enjoy the experience and understand the lifestyle you need to understand the language that people speak or at least know the basics.

With that being said on the 15th July we will be providing basic learning tips and some printed essential of the Xhosa language.  As isiXhosa is the dominant language in Khayelitsha, the diners will get the chance to learn the different clicks, pronunciations, greetings and introductions. 

Dine Big Issue
The Big issue did an article thanks to Claire Van den Heever

 More about Dine with Khayelitsha…..

The Dine with Khayelitsha project came to light as a result of a group of young minds, who saw an opportunity to change the world by starting an NPO called Have Fun. The Dine with Khayelitsha initiative sees people from all corners of the globe, coming together to enjoy what is described as a ‘purposefully awesome experience in the township. Part of their purpose is to break down race boundaries in order to better understand elements of life from a township perspective.

Township taxi
Taxis bundle people from the Library near Grand Parade to Khayelitsha


Dine 2
Gathering before breaking into groups!

Overall this is a space where the young and the old learn from each other about our different cultures, languages, and how we all relate somewhere or somehow in our lives. Dine With Khayelitshas goal is to bring people from all walks of life in Khayelitsha and share a meal while taking about some of the barriers we have around townships. It’s an experience for one personal growth and to broaden ones horizons and lastly to better understand the township life without any judgments.

As UBuntu Bridge we are in full support of this great initiative and we will continue teaching indigenous languages especially if we continue to have or hold spaces where we share knowledge around indigenous people and their languages, privilege and what to do with it. Come and celebarte the life of Madiba and be part of the change he wanted for this country.

Good food, good company with language learning. More details on how you can book your seat please click here Dine with Khayelitsha-Mandela Day Dinner

Dine 4
Sive and some visiting clowns


Dine 3
Mpesheni and some of his group


Dine nightlife
Dine Nightlife Gathering


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UBuntu Bridge South African Schools Vernacular Proposal 2016 and Beyond

 Proposal cover


Over the last 10 years UBuntu Bridge has been developing a vision around the issue of language diversity and continued cultural and economic segregation in South Africa.  We believe it addresses multiple issues in our society, and provides viable suggestions for solving them.

It has been based on  personal experience and journey of learning isiXhosa and other indigenous languages of South Africa as an adult, within cultural contexts of welcoming, supportive and enthusiastic communities, from eKasi (townships) to ezilalini (rural villages), from the Eastern Cape to Limpopo, and in between.

Camagu Makhosi!


UBuntu Bridge School Vernac Proposal




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African Language Learning in Schools Solution – School Xhosa

A PDF proposal was created in 2016 to provide a more visual vision. We remain unattached to whether we are involved as an organisation or not, but wish dearly for some sort of similar project to be implemented on a national level, for the good of our nation, and the youth of our country.


Download the PDF here:

African Language Learning in Schools – School Xhosa

Molweni, Sanibonani, Dumelang, Goeie Dag, Hello

If you are here, reading this, you probably:

a)   recognize the vital and urgent power of even basic African language learning, coupled with African cultural awareness, as a way to help forge a united nation and heal wounds from our past, relating to intercultural dynamic

b)   are concerned with how we can find a way to make it relevant, convenient and effective for young scholars (the future of this country) and adult learners.

For years the debate has raged, and as recently as this morning, we have seen the headline of the Cape Times proclaim that the new policy will require an extra hour to the school day, much to many teacher’s and learner’s dismay.  The issues have been unfolding, often with controversy, for some time!

Difficulty of African language teaching at schools

African languages have been taught at many ‘privileged’ schools (arguably where they are needed most) over the years and are beset by the following problems with profound consistency:

1)   lack of interest from learners (usually one or two white learners finish it for matric)

2)   although some of the best teachers can be found at some schools, many receive teaching from teachers who have not received training on how to teach their own language as a third language (an equivalent to TEFL – we refer to our methodology and teaching style as TXCL – teaching Xhosa as a Conversational language)

3)   old-fashioned course content, which focusses on deep, non-contemporary Xhosa, thus providing learners with very little practical reward (and thus erodes motivation and interest).

4)   grammar heavy learning, which results in scholars knowing the noun groups, but not how to greet and introduce in a way that facilitates relationship-building and enjoyment of the language.

5)   lack of cultural empathy and connection, thus reduced enthusiasm, respect and little authenticity to the learning process, something ‘white’ learners need, as language and ‘race’ issues in modern SA for whities is particularly about identity, shame/guilt, fear, arrogance, ignorance.

Vision in a Nutshell:Language Learning in SA is really about two things:

1.        PAST:  Respecting our local cultures, people and history, for proper reconciliation and healing of all our peoples!
2.         FUTURE:  Connecting our peoples across socio-economic divides, to build a nation to inspire the world, again!

Marketing and Motivation:  

Language learning needs to be popularised. 

  • It needs to compete with all the other interests and distractions out there!!  But it needs to be marketed via demonstration
  • videos, music, popular culture.
  • Once you have interest from learners, there are Three C’s you need to give learners:  
  • Confidence – materials and teaching methods that focus on practical essentials! ·    
  • Convenience – multi-platform and mobile learning tools, for adults with busy jobs and scholars with full curriculums!!
  • Cultural Context – immersion opportunities to authenticate the connection and learning process!

UBuntu Bridge has a 5-pointed plan

for the situation, which we have been building and testing for 7 years of teaching on corporate, govt, school, NGO, online and public learning platforms (since 2005):  

  1. Excellent and engaging materials and teaching methodology
  2. Fun and enrolling live teaching and tutoring
  3. Online, multimedia and mobile learning tools e.g. videos
  4. Online tutoring support
  5. Language and culture immersions in townships and rural villages (which stimulate local micro-enterprises)  

Please email for more information!

Demos of our Xhosa language and Culture learning Videos (demos below):

[easy-media med=”567,570,582,577,773,587,1188″ col=”2″ align=”none”]


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Upcoming Village Experience – April 2009

Feedback on December 2008 village experience:
“It was amazing! All went very well, I have no complaints. Kath & Sibongile are great teachers, thank you guys. I loved staying with the Matsoboyi family, they were really sweet and made me feel part of their family. Mdumbi is beautiful – kumnandi kakhulu ezilalini! The village experience has really inspired me to learn more isiXhosa. Enkosi kakhulu for a great experience.”
– Inge van Reenen –

With Kath, my cousin permanently up at Mdumbi (where there is great surfing), Village experiences are now available at your convenience, almost all of the time, so merely contact us.

I am considering hosting a journey to a Sangoma graduation ceremony in Mpondoland, followed by a coastal walk and then a short village stay. If you are interested, let me know. Dates will be around the 23rd April – 3rd May, 2009. More info in the next newsletter.

More info: (langauge tour link above)
Or email:

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Village Experience in April 2008

A group of adventurous Xhosa language learners spanning three generations and a 50% gender split successfully navigated the gentle rolling hills of the lali’s (rural villages).

Here are some pics and what they had to say:

“spending a week living and being in the village was incredible, i was completely amazed at how i was able to communicate and have real conversations with my family there – it has made me feel so much more confident in speaking and connected with South Africa and being South African. ” Lori Miller (Zuzeka)

uLori uhlala nosapho lwake (Lori sitting with her Xhosa family)

uLori utheza iinkuni (Lori fetching wood)

uLori uncokola namanye amantombazana (Lori chatting with other ladies)

“Thanks so much for an awesome experience. I am speaking only in Xhosa to my manufacturing staff now, and it greatly increases my enjoyment of communication with them”.  Ross Johnson

uRoss uselalini (Ross in the village)

uTessa nabantwana basekhaya (Tessa with the kids)


For more info on Village trips for school and other groups, click here: