UWC invites proposals to replace “Bushies” moniker

The University of the Western Cape, Bellville campus. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus.

The University of the Western Cape’s sport department may be looking to part ways with the moniker, “Bushies” as some alumni feel that the name bears a derogatory meaning when it comes to representing their sport teams and supporters.

UWC posted a press release on LinkedIn, inviting students and the public to suggest new ‘supporter terms’, as some UWC alumni informed the university the term, “Bushies”, carries a derogatory meaning that was imposed upon the university by the Apartheid regime.

The press release stated that: “UWC Sport acknowledges and appreciates the concerns and strives to undo the injustice by establishing a universally acceptable supporters name for UWC Sport. Therefore we invite the UWC community (students, staff, alumni), partners and stakeholders to participate in a process developed to establish a new supporters name.”

When asked whether UWC will announce a new supporters name by the end of the year or if the name change will mainly concern and impact the sport teams and supporters, university spokesperson, Gasant Abarder, said: “The process has only just begun, no decisions have been made. It would thus be premature to comment.”

Northern News reached out to current and past students to hear their thoughts on the possible name change and whether they feel it’s necessary or not.

Historian and UWC alumnus (1975-1982) Cornelius Thomas shared his understanding of the “Bushies” moniker: “I do not know when the term, ‘Bushies’, entered the UWC parlance. I certainly don’t know anyone of my generation who embraces that moniker. There was of course the use of ‘Bush’ and ‘Bush College’ as reference to UWC. This was because the university was literally built in a bush.

“Being from the area (Sarepta), I remember how, in the 1960s, the university college stood lonely, forlorn and cut off from other built-up areas. The term, ‘Bushies’, was certainly used as a term of self-definition but I believe not by ‘class’ (1975-1982). I think that in the 1990s and 2000s parents sent their children to Udubs. I don’t think a nickname for UWC should be artificial. I think Bush works for the institution but Bushies for the students? Maybe not. There’s too much of an implied reference to the Bushmen (San) in that term,“ Mr Thomas said.

Siyanda Kobokana, who’s currently doing his Master’s degree in history at UWC, shared his thoughts on the term’s history and the possible name change. “My understanding of the name originates from Apartheid’s grand design of wanting to create a coloured university that would be substandard to its white counterparts.

“The name ‘Bush College’, was termed to characterise UWC as a backwards ‘bush-like’ university on the Cape Flats but also it symbolised the relationship that the university had with its nature reserve and the trees surrounding it,“ he said.

However, he feels that the name change is unnecessary. “Although the name has an association with something negative, over the years the name has been associated with UWC’s proud history of resistance, a history that aligns with the university’s Latin motto: ‘Respice Prospice’, meaning looking backwards in order to look forward.”

A current student from Generation Z, who wishes to remain anonymous, also shared her opinion on the name change. “This is actually the first time that I hear about this nickname, but if I had to take Apartheid into consideration I would think that it is a racist term used to degrade people of colour who are the descendants of of the first people who were in South Africa.

“I think that a name change is necessary, especially when the nickname is offensive towards many people. The university also has a predominant black and coloured population, so I think it should have been changed a long time ago and shouldn’t be something that the university should be considering,“ she said.

Northern News reached out to UWC Sport but could not receive a response before the time of publication.

The deadline for the name proposals is Saturday September 30.

For more information or to make a contribution regarding the name change, email sport@uwc.ac.za