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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
SA row over 'bull testicle' name
A bull
Some say eThekwini means a bull with one testicle
A row has erupted in the South African port of Durban about the meaning of the Zulu word eThekwini, the name of the city's greater municipality area.

The most common translation for this is a "bull's testicle" although others say its root comes from the word harbour.

It blew up because Durban Mayor Obed Mlaba has said he favours changing eThekwini's name to KwaKhangela, which is said to translate as "watch out".

The mayor denies he is acting out of embarrassment over the word's meaning.

Correspondents say eThekwini has long been the name used to refer to Durban, but it has only officially applied to the municipality for five years.

'Not proud'

Earlier in the week, South Africa's Star newspaper implied that Mr Mlaba was embarrassed about eThekwini.

"A lot of people overseas have asked: 'What does eThekwini mean?' Then you start saying, 'Well you see, ummm, please pass me the milk for my tea', because you are not proud to say what it means," the paper quotes him as saying.

But Mr Mlaba told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that this was not the case.

"The point I made was that each time people would ask, 'What does it [eThekwini] mean?' I will have difficulty because no-one knows how exactly it came about," Mr Mlaba.

"The issue about the testicles definitely did not come from me. The reason I had difficulty was that I just did not know where it came from."

His comments have sparked a debate in the media about eThekwini's linguistic roots.

Mr Mlaba said the name is being reviewed as part of process across the country to change names of towns, streets and health institutions.

He said a committee would decide on the various proposals it had received.

What's in a name?
27 Oct 06 |  Africa
City names mark changing times
26 May 05 |  Africa
How South Africa has changed
13 Apr 04 |  Africa


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