The ongoing joke is how Africans have their own time; basically we don’t keep time, ever. To a point that when someone is running late and they tell you they will be there ‘Now now’ – just know they are still waking up and haven’t even bathed yet. That’s African time; the ability to be almost there when we know you haven’t even left the house.

So what are the differences?

Now: We all do that thing where we say, “I’ll do it now,” but we know that what we are actually saying is that we won’t do it right at that moment; it’ll probably be done eventually, but not too soon or maybe even never. If I say I will be there now, I am probably an hour late.

Now now: “I’ll be there now now,” is less immediate than Now. We’re basically saying it won’t probably happen shortly or in the next few minutes. If I say I will be there now now, I might have probably changed my mind and will not be coming.

Just Now: “I’ll do the washing just now”. This probably means that you’ll only do the washing much later on. There is no exact time frame stamped to it, but it certainly won’t be done anytime soon!

If this was confusing, then I totally understand. It’s quite complex to explain but those who know, know.


Tell us: Did you know the difference between the three “Nows”? Are there other curious and uniquely South African expressions you are aware of?