Höerskool Hendrik Verwoerd is changed its name to Rietondale Secondary School. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA.
Höerskool Hendrik Verwoerd is changed its name to Rietondale Secondary School. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA.

Apartheid-era school names: 'What's in a name?'

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Sep 10, 2019

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Cape Town - Despite little movement from Western Cape schools around addressing apartheid-era school names, many were left asking whats in a name, and why do we need to change it?

On Monday, the Cape Argus reported that Western Cape schools in no rush to change apartheid-era names, following the news that learners at Rietondale High School in Gauteng, formerly known as Hoërskool Hendrik Verwoerd, celebrated their new school name.

Since 2015, schools in the province have had the option to change their colonial or apartheid-era school names but none within the province have done so. 

In response, many were left asking why would a name change even be necessary?

Maria Machelm: "What's in a name? Why change names? Do you know how many lifetimes of memories, is in that name? How many first days, tears, joy, your first bestie, oh goodness your entire life is in that name.....Why change it? Apartheid was bad we all know that,but not everything or name has left us with bad memories..."

Thina Nelo: "We have more important things to worry about seriously!!"

Zeenat Khan: "Change the name and then? Will the students suddenly become independent thinkers and know how to file taxes? Will students become better citizens? Will violence come to an end? It’s time the authorities step out for their plush offices, paid for by taxpayers, and into the REAL world."

Yoland van der Byl: "Actually a pointless exercise. Days gone by everything named Rhodes was changed to Voortrekker, Voortrekker to Nelson Mandela. The time will come when everything Nelson Mandela will be changed to Julius Malema or who knows. An absolute waste of money."

Sherry Skibbe: "Maybe change names to things like integrity or and grace or hope high school names that mean something that people can be positive about."

Edward Nemutamvuni: "It’s useless exercise. We must forgive and move on. I don’t have any problem with names and infrastructure of the past."

Anton Dirk Bester: "Let those who pay the school bloody fees decide if the name should be changed."

Keith Harvey: "Remember when we were told airports were to change their names to something neutral and were not to be named after politicians aligned to any political party? It did not last long."

Kate Parr: "Don't bother changing names...they will soon be burnt down anyway."

Claudine Botha: "They must stand as a reminder to us of how little they thought of a vast majority of our nation and against that constant reminder we must prove them wrong by striving to be successful. Also, we have more important things to spend money on than changing names."

Caitlin Cloete: "While I get why people feel the name change is necessary, It would be disingenuous to change the name of an Afrikaans school to the name of an indigenous/African person, if there are only like 3 black pupils at the school, as often is the case at Afrikaans schools. Maybe change the name to the name of the surrounding area. Don't just change it if there is no intent behind it to become more integrated."

Josefa Mangadi: "Imagine if there was a School called Hitler High in Germany?"

Cape Argus

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