Khaya Dlanga
Khaya Dlanga

Ukutawuna finally explained

I promised to write a blog explaining the term, “ukutawuna” or “tawuning”. Well, I have finally come (excuse the pun which you will get later) around to fulfilling that promise even though it is far later than I originally intended.

Many people wonder what ukutawuna means, especially those who keep seeing it being used on Twitter. It is especially popular among your Eastern Cape crowd. Some know what it means but have no idea of its origins. Well, sit back, get a cup of coffee, tea or whatever it is that you drink and take a sip as you read.

The term basically means having sex without a condom. Uyatawuna. Ukutawuna. Now you know. However, read on, you might want to know the origins.

According to legend, ukutawuna originated from South Africa’s second largest township, (my hometown by the way) Mdantsane, a township just outside East London. Those of you have had the misfortune of never having lived there, you have no idea what you are missing. Some of you will know Mdantsane for producing some of the greatest boxing champions in the world, and of course, me. But let me get back to ukutawuna.

Back in the day, there used to be one taxi route from Mdantsane to East London. If you wanted to catch a taxi from Mdantsane to East London (which was just called town, or as the Xhosas say, “etawuni”) you had to go to the biggest taxi rank in Mdantsane, the rank is known as Highway. Needless to say you won’t find a highway anywhere near the rank.

As time moved on, a new area developed in greater East London called Vincent. A very popular mall by the name, drum roll, Vincent Park, opened there. In order to accommodate all the people who worked and shopped there, a new taxi route opened up from Mdantsane and it was named, well, you guessed it, Vincent.

However, this new Vincent route also ended up in central town. At the taxi rank in Mdantsane, Highway, you’d hear taxi drivers shouting to passersby, “Vincent!” and you’d also here, “Town straight!” Remember, both routes end up in town, but the one goes via Vincent. The destination is the same but the time to get there takes longer if you take Vincent.

With the advent of condoms and Aids, the clever boys in the Mdantsane started referring to sex without a condom as Town Straight. It was essentially the same as taking a taxi from Mdantsane Highway and ending up town. If you had sex with a condom it was like taking a taxi from Mdantsane Highway to Vincent, then to town. It was a longer way of getting the same result.

As time moved on, having sex without a condom was no longer referred to as Town Straight, but a Xhosalised version of it which is ukutawuna.