Burn! Coloured aunties are queens of the insult

Coloured-auntie insults are short, acerbic and ever so slightly sweet. They are the one-liners of our nation, writes Haji Mohamed Dawjee

01 October 2017 - 00:00
By Haji Mohamed Dawjee
Marc Lottering's Aunty Merle character is the quintessential coloured auntie.
Image: Supplied Marc Lottering's Aunty Merle character is the quintessential coloured auntie.

Jou tanne sal koebaai sé vir jou lippe.

This is honestly one of the best turns of phrase I have ever heard.

The direct English translation is "Your teeth will say goodbye to your lips".

But there is no equal reprimand an English-speaking parent can offer their child as a way of reminding them that backchat is not tolerated.

In fact, there is no equivalent in suiwer Afrikaans that does the same either.

Why? Because coloured aunties are the queens of the burn unit. They are the sharp-tongued sprites of South Africa and I don't think they receive enough credit. We need to celebrate coloured auntie magic more.

When I lived in Stellenbosch for a year, one of the town's most redeeming qualities was the local Checkers, where families would come and do their shopping on a Saturday morning.

I often found myself wandering outside, a keen observer, cheap McDonald's ice-cream cone in hand, stuffing my face and missing home. The aunties' display of disciplining quenched my nostalgia and took me back to my own childhood. Home never seemed closer.

Coloured aunties come with certificates in child-rearing. There is no comparison in the tapestry of South African parenting that comes close. Yes, there are those out there with cultural differences - and cultural ignorances, no less - who will choose to focus on the serious conversations about corporal punishment, but that is a story for another day. Today is a day for coloured auntie magic.

And every child who has come into contact with it knows they would not be who they are today without it.

Coloured auntie magic is short and acerbic and ever so slightly sweet. They are the one-liners of our nation.

I used to have an aunt who was a genius at using the fewest words possible to get the biggest message across. Coloured aunties have no time for things ... you know? Just things. Like if you mumbled something and walked away from this aunt, she would just side-eye you and say, "You cruising for a bruising".

In life, crying gets nothing done and no one knows this better than a coloured auntie

Or if you were singing a song word for word, she would look at you and say, "I hope you know your maths the way you know that song."

The secret to the resilience in a child of colour lies in the coloured auntie one-liners. It's where you learn to keep your head down and get on with it. No tears. Tears are not tolerated because in life crying gets nothing done and no one knows this more than a coloured auntie.

I used to envy white kids when I was growing up. In fact, as an adult when I listen to some of the stuff my white friends got to pull, I am still in awe. There are rules in white households, for sure. There are curfews and the promise of being grounded if any of the rules are broken. But honestly, to most people of colour, even the idea of being grounded is a joke.

You see, being grounded means that somewhere along the way you had a degree of freedom and you took chances with that freedom, and then, ultimately, when your parents had enough of you, they grounded you.

It's kind of cute, and to me, it was also kind of ridiculous because it looks something like this.

White friend: I am grounded so I am not allowed to use the phone anymore.


White friend: (rolls eyes back as though their world has ended) Yes, but not anymore because I am grounded.

Me: I can't believe you were allowed to use the phone. I am NEVER allowed to use the phone.

White friend: What?! Why?

Me: Because my teeth will say goodbye to my lips if I ask!