WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Well quite a lot, actually. We are often asked about our name, Phelamanga; where it come from and what it means. Well here is the true story.
When we founded our business in 1996 our whole family was involved. At the time we were feeling very insecure and apprehensive about our new venture. Rod had resigned from his job and we were stepping out in faith. One of the first orders of business was to decide on a name. We wanted a name that expressed our commitment to participating in the development of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.
So when it came to choosing a name for our new business the words of Scatterlings, off the first album (1982, and on vinyl) by Juluka, the South African band led by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu came to mind:
They are the scatterlings of Africa
Each uprooted one
Beneath the copper sun
This seemed to sum up both our unsettled state and our longing for better things and better ways of living. We unanimously agreed that PHELAMANGA was the name we wanted. But we were still unsure of where this place “Phelamanga” was. We asked Zulu-speakers, who told us that they had never heard of it and in fact they didn’t think it was even a word. The closest we could get was a literal translation – “no more lies”, or more poetically, “the beginning of truth”. Unconcerned at the lack of a precise meaning, we barrelled ahead. In fact, we rather like the idea that a business specialising in public participation had “no more lies” as its name.
A couple of years later Rod was in Johannesburg for a meeting and needing a coffee he stopped at a coffee shop in Norwood. Spotting Johnny Clegg at a neighbouring table he introduced himself, told the story, confessed that we were using the name Phelamanga and asked for (retrospective) permission. Johnny was very gracious and immediately said yes. When Rod asked Johnny about the meaning he laughed and said it was a made-up word. He and Sipho Mchunu had been jamming, composing the song, and got as far as “on the road to …”, “on the road to …”, when one of them spontaneously added “Phelamanga”. Just then his manager arrived and Johnny had him confirm that it was OK for us to go on using the name.
Phelamanga – the end of lies, where truth begins; our passion is allowing the truth to come forth through the active participation of stakeholders.