IsiNgqumo, or IsiGqumo,[1] (literally "decisions" in the language itself) is an argot used by homosexuals of South Africa and Zimbabwe who speak Bantu languages, as opposed to Gayle, a language used by the homosexuals of South Africa who speak Germanic languages. IsiNgqumo developed during the 1980s.[2][3] Unlike Gayle, IsiNgqumo has not been thoroughly researched or documented, so figures on numbers of speakers are nonexistent.[4]

IsiNgqumo is often considered a Western invention by indigenous Zimbabweans but it was actually a creation of indigenous homosexuals, an only recently self-aware group.[2]


Although the following sample conversation may be slightly obscene, it is a good representative of IsiNgqumo's use as most of its vocabulary has some connection to sex or gay men.[5]


"Isiphukwana sake, kuyavuswa na?"
"Kuncishiwe" (or) "kuyapholwa"

Ndebele translation (to show difference):

"Ubolo sake, kuyakhulu na?"

English (literal translation):

"His little stick, has it awoken?"
"It's not talented" (or) "it makes one cold"

English translation:

"His penis, is it big?"
"It's small" (both terms mean the same thing, and are very derogatory[why?])


The origin of the vocabulary used in the above sample is given below:[5]

See also[]


  1. ^ Rudwick, Stephanie; Ntuli, Mduduzi (2008). "IsiNgqumo – Introducing a gay Black South African linguistic variety". Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. 26 (4): 445–456. doi:10.2989/SALALS.2008. S2CID 143791942. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b Epprecht, Marc (December 1998). "The 'Unsaying' of Indigenous Homosexualities in Zimbabwe: Mapping a Blindspot in an African Masculinity" (PDF). Journal of Southern African Studies. 24 (4): 631–651. Bibcode:1998JSAfS..24..631E. doi:10.1080/03057079808708594. JSTOR 2637467. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 August 2004. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. ^ Cage, Ken; Evans, Moyra (2003). Gayle: The Language of Kinks and Queens: A History and Dictionary of Gay Language in South Africa. Houghton, South Africa: Jacana Media. ISBN 9781919931494. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  4. ^ Cage, Ken (10 August 1999). "Gayle – Gay SA Slang". Q Online. Mail & Guardian. Archived from the original on 2000-08-18.
  5. ^ a b Cameron, Edwin; Gevisser, Mark (2013). Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa. Routledge. p. 183. ISBN 9781136656026. Retrieved 25 June 2014.