Lwazi – Mr Skhokho – Mhlongo, a third year student in Media Studies, discusses a new trend that is taking Johannesburg’s townships by storm.
An appalling trend has quickly been escalating within townships in South Africa over the past three years. I am terming it a trend because of a lack of a better word to describe this phenomenon. This act is performed by a group of teenagers/youth between the ages of 15 to 20 and it is called ukukhothana. Ukukhothana is a term which means ‘to lick’ when loosely translated. The participants in this phenomenon are called izikhothane (the lickers). One would be forgiven to think that it is a scene from a local movie Tsotsi or the upcoming local movie Skyf when witnessing the act.
These youth converge at a corner within their area to brag to each other about who wears big and better clothing brands. It does not end there. They further brag to each other about who has a better, lavish lifestyle and who has more money. Bragging to each other is not so much of a problem if it just ends in equivocal bragging or debate. But these teenagers take it a step further. A homeless person will be very envious of this youth trend. Taking a seat will be necessary if you are to continue reading below.
A group of izikhothane arrange a meeting or appointment so as to compete to determine a better izikhothane group or individual. The competition includes the burning of expensive brands of clothing and the burning of actual cash. They buy and destroy groceries by stepping on it or throwing it around. This phenomenon emerged in a township in the West Rand of Johannesburg. In one incident, a youth bought boerewors valued at R1,000 and stepped on it. His fellow competitor brought along expensive clothes, burned and tore them. A week ago in Pimville, Soweto, someone bought a bucket of chicken at KFC and stepped on it. On finishing this act, he took off the shoes he was wearing, a pair of Carvela’s which cost R1,000, and burned them, saying “they have finished eating and now are full”.
What is disappointing about this is that most of the teenagers/youth engaging in ukukhothana are from disadvantaged backgrounds. In case of those whose families are well off, their parents work hard to feed and clothe them. Furthermore, parents or guardians are not aware of this phenomenon. It also makes the perpetrators vulnerable to crime because those who cannot afford to engage in the practice will resort to stealing from clothing shops.
Lwazi can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org