Dashiki | Let’s reconcile and light up those crickets

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There will be lots of cricket action during the festive period. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba /AFP/Getty Images
There will be lots of cricket action during the festive period. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba /AFP/Getty Images


This week, the Indian cricket team touched down in South Africa for their tour of the country. This means there will be lots of cricket action during the festive period. I’m not talking about the game of cricket, but rather “crickets”, as some of us grew up referring to fireworks.

As we celebrated Reconciliation Day on Thursday, we were reminded of how far we have come as a country.

But then it dawned on me that:

We have not really connected as a nation, for there are still slang words that apply within a particular group only.

There are many phrases that only black people know and understand. Sadly, we can’t even spell out some of them, but we know what they mean – from crickets, checkers and potries to stop nonsense, double-up and many more.

This week, I was reminded of double-up by my US-based friend who came to visit this week. While at university, he asked me: “Shanko, what is double-up?”

Being from west Africa, he didn’t know what it meant. He couldn’t believe it when I told him that it meant “short cut”.

To him, that didn’t make sense, as he thought it should refer to a long way rather than a short one. We still laugh about it today.

Then there is “stop nonsense”, which my coloured friend didn’t know about. It’s a precast concrete wall.

No one knows why it is called by such a funny name, but I have a feeling it had to do with neighbours trying to stop people from peeping through their fences and not minding their own business.

READ: This is what’s wrong with the fireworks

How about potries? For a long time, I thought this was an Afrikaans word until I happened to mention to it to my coloured friend.

To my amusement, she didn’t have any clue what I was talking about. I had to point to my calf to enlighten her. She was in stitches and told me there was nothing like that in Afrikaans. It’s called a kuit.

Another one that will forever be with us is “a checkers”, a plastic shopping bag. 

Almost every black household knows what a checkers is because we grew up using them.

I have been struggling to try to explain to my kids what it is. Every time I send them to the shops, I remind them to take a checkers with them – and you should see their confusion.

Even the store manager in my area knows that I always ask for a checkers when I buy bread. But they are slowly being discontinued and replaced by paper bags.

I am really going to miss my checkers, which not only worked as a carry bag, but we’d also use them to weave plastic mats.

Some of these slang terms will stick with us forever and it is time other people embraced them in the name of reconciliation. So let’s enjoy our festive with lots of crickets.


Timothy Molobi 

News Editor

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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