Lifestyle & Belief

South African schools with 'inappropriate' names face change


Children learn to wash their hands with Lifebuoy soap, at Margeret Gwele Primary School, Soweto, on October 15, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Celebrated in over 100 countries, Global Handwashing Day is an annual awareness day which aims to put the global spotlight on handwashing with soap as a lifesaving habit.


Greg Marinovich

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — An education official in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province has ordered the renaming of 15 village schools with names deemed “inappropriate” or “uninspiring.”

Among them are Mathangetshitshi (“thighs of a virgin”) High School, Bambinkuzu (“pickpocket”) Primary School, and Mgwazeni (“stab him”) High School, names described as “not educationally sound.”

Senzo Mchunu, in charge of education for the province, told South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper: “We will negotiate with the villagers to provide us with alternative names in the interest of education.”

Also on the chopping block are Tilongo (“prison”) Primary School, Phuza (“drink”) Primary Schol and Nkawu (“monkey”) High School.

“While the naming of schools speaks to local character … in many instances school naming exercises were done unilaterally,” a discussion paper from the education ministry said.

But at “thighs of a virgin” school, located in KwaMgilija village about 185 miles north of Durban, there is outrage over the proposed name change.

The school’s unusual name comes from a tale about a traditional chief, a well-built man who would parade his “taut thighs” through the village, and who donated a piece of his farmland for the building of the school.

A deputy principal said the school is proud of its name, and doesn’t feel it is offensive.

King Goodwill Zwelithini's spokesman, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, said the education department had to discuss any renaming with the royal family.

"We would not be happy if a part of Zulu history was erased without consulting the royal household," he told the newspaper. 

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