Changing names gives you a massive babanangu

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With the current eagerness for giving new names to South Africa’s towns, I asked Threnody Higginbottom, my secretary (I call her Miss Smith around the office) to find some columns from the 1990s when readers were invited to suggest probable meanings for South African town names.

Many of the suggestions received were too late for publication. But I kept them.

I recalled the list the other day after receiving an e-mail from David Shabangu asking if I knew that the proposed name for Joburg – Egoli – “obviously honours the Kaizer Chiefs’ (and Bafana Bafana) goalie Itumeleng Khune”.

I must say, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Those years ago a reader suggested that Bolokanang (Petrusburg) means a “severe ticking off” and that the Free State town of Clocolan is named after “the start of the small bowel”.

My problem is, who wrote these?

My confusion is entirely Threnody’s fault – she mixed up the files.

“Threnody, this was most reprehensible of you!”

“It was my pleasure, Sir.”

I managed to trace to R Greenberg of Bedford Park, Bedfordview, these three:

Port Elizabeth – an after-dinner wine with royal approval

Barberton – a real live doll

Robinson – stealing from your own family

I recognised the touch of Jean M Humphreys of Northcliff in some but checking back they might have been from Cecile Cilliers of Linden or Rae Lambert of Honeydew.

But they were very amusing.

Babanangu – hangover from skokiaan

Gompies – crumbs in the bed

Hluhluwe – indignant sound made by birders when American tourists walk into a Kruger Park bird hide loudly complaining that they have not seen any tigers.

Koppies – photostats

Memel – small desert animal

Mtubatuba – duet for euphoniums

Osizweni – an Australian’s small thingummy

Poupan – child’s toilet training pan

Rustenburg – heap of scrap cars

Ubombo – male bimbo

Villa Lisa – infection of the lower gut

Gordon Malcolm of Barbecue Downs (Edenvale way) sent in:

Slurry – incoherent sentence uttered by a drunk

Thaba Nchu – a word used to describe a combination of flatulence and sneezing

Dimbaza – a stupid executive

Atok – sneezing with closed mouth

Setlagole – deciding goal in a soccer match

Umtentweni – tiny temporary shelter

Umtata – “gunk” found at base of improperly cleaned toothbrush bristles

Other brilliant ones from authors unnamed:

Bisho – second-rate movie house

Blinkpan – Eyebath

Calvinia – maternity home for cows

Clarkson – Loud car horn

Conera – sexually transmitted disease

Dargle – blow bubbles into a cup of beverage through a straw

Lutzputs – discreet burps made in appreciation of a tot of fine mampoer.

Ealing – laying on of hands

Gauteng – sound made when spitting tobacco into a spittoon

Hohoza – whiplash from an unattended hosepipe

Ingwavuma – V8 turbocharged station wagon

Kabega – extended truck cab

Mamelodi – citrus preserve

Midros – the crease that divides a middle-aged man’s stomach from his thorax

Pudimore – second helping of dessert

Tsitsikamma – lounge

Tweedie – little fluffball on old sweater

Zeerust – result of parking your car at the coast

Zunkels – cold scraps of schnitzels


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