By: Frank McClatchie

If you stay in Tahiti for a while, the Tahitians will give you a name that they can pronounce. For instance, at the time that I was going to Tahiti, I was known as MAC, because that was what I was called in the Navy. But the Tahitians had real trouble pronouncing MAC, so after a while they started calling me MATI, which, to their ears, sounded close enough.

However, there was an American friend in Tahiti that acquired the Tahitian name of “Uhuru Tutua”, and this story is about how he got that name and just what it means in Tahitian. The Tahitian People are very friendly and love to invite members of the FRIENDS OF TAHITI CLUB to their parties when they fly down to Tahiti from America.

He was also a member of the FRIENDS OF TAHITI club, and so we went to some of the same parties that were given for members of that club by the Tahitians and French people.

At one particular party, that was held at the home of a French Couple, he became forevermore known in Tahiti as Uhuru Tutua. Also at the party was a small monkey, owned by the French Couple that dearly loved Hinano (the local Tahitian Beer), and any kind of booze. If you did not watch your drink very closely, that monkey would soon steal it and drink it himself. Very shortly the monkey got completely plastered and forgot how to walk let alone climb a tree. The monkey ran about with his hind legs, but forgot about his front legs, which were dragging on the ground, so he was plowing a furrow in the dirt with his face. Also the monkey kept falling out of the trees. After a while the monkey decided that he had a blazing head-ache and sorely needed an Aspirin, (yes he knew about what an Aspirin could do). In fact the French Couple had to hide the Aspirin bottle from him to keep any for themselves.

My friend was very corpulent, with a circumference about equal to his height. At the party in the house, someone started playing Tahitian Dancing Music, and my friend asked a Tahitian girl that was also at the party to dance “Tahitian Style with him” (after all he also was a member of the FRIENDS OF TAHITI and could dance the Tahitian Way). So there he was standing in the middle of the living room floor with the Tahitian girl walking all around him, examining him in great detail. She decided that in order for him to dance Tahitian Style, he should at least be dressed for the occasion. So she pulled a large drapery off of the wall and came back and undid his belt and dropped his pants to the floor. There was a gasp from all the Tahitians present! He was wearing some shorts that were popular in America at that time that had large Red Ants printed all over the shorts. After going around him once more to examine the shorts in detail, she took off his shirt. At this point he was standing in the middle of the living room floor and yelling for “Abbott” to come and rescue him (you have to remember this was some time ago and Abbott and Costello were then a popular comedy team). The Tahitian girl was examining him closely. He was yelling his head off for Abbott to come and save him, and the rest of the room full of people were rolling on the floor trying to recover their breaths. The whole scene was extremely hilarious for all concerned. I could not breath because I was laughing so hard. After a while, the Tahitian girl wrapped the drapery around my friend so that he would be properly dressed in a Pareo big enough to fit Mr 5X5, and the Tahitian Dancing began. Between the monkey and the Tahitian dancing, it was one heck of a party.

Can you even manage to understand the hilarity of the situation at this point? The party even got better after that. In any event, that sealed the event of establishing his Tahitian Name.

The next day my friend was in Papeete walking down the street, when a total stranger to him waved and called out to him in a loud voice UHURU TUTUA!!! Obviously the woman thought that was his name! After that, several other total strangers also waved and called out to him with the same name. The entire town of Papeete now knew him by that name! My friend had no idea in the world what Uhuru Tutua meant, but that was obviously now his Tahitian Name. Everybody in town called him by that name, but he had no idea what it meant!

Obviously the “COCONUT RADIO” operating at 100% efficiency!

Finally someone told him what the words meant in Tahitian. Remember the party where the Tahitians discovered the shorts with the Red Ants printed on them that he was wearing? The best Tahitian/English translation is ANTS IN HIS PANTS. He returned to Tahiti many times and that name stuck. The idea that someone would have Red Ants printed all over his shorts was really funny to the Tahitians. He was forever known throughout all of Tahiti and the outer Islands by that name.

My friend was a Bar Keeper in Beverly Hills, and whenever I saw him behind the bar, I would yell out Uhuru Tutua in greeting to him. Everybody in Tahiti knew him by that name, but I do not know whether the people at the Beverly Hills bar know about that particular episode in his life.