What’s In A Name?
The word “Sikhona” (si:’kɔh:nah) is a part of how members of the Zulu tribe in South Africa greet one another. Whereas we here in the States might say, “Hey!” or “How are you?” the Zulu say, “Sawabona,” which means “I see you.”
What a beautiful thing to be seen. In therapy, we’ve come to understand one of the deepest points of pain for people is feeling unseen and unknown. To be seen and acknowledged can cultivate a profound sense of belonging and personhood.
Perhaps even more profound is the traditional response: “Sikhona,” which loosely translates to, “I am here (to be seen by you).”
Can you imagine what that would feel like to have that exchange with someone? A loved one? Even a stranger?
“Sikhona” honors the belief that “I did not exist until you saw me.” Indeed, we are who we are in the context of our relationships, and when we are seen by others, fully present, we truly come to life.