From Aardvark to Ihobo-hobo: Zoology and Entomology Department renames six spaces


Dean of Science Professor Tony Booth and Head of Zoology and Entomology Department Professor Nicole Richoux
CREDIT: Vusumzi Tshekema
Dean of Science Professor Tony Booth and Head of Zoology and Entomology Department Professor Nicole Richoux CREDIT: Vusumzi Tshekema

By Matimu Shivambu


In a transformative stride towards fostering inclusivity and recognising the contributions of a diverse array of individuals, Rhodes University’s Department of Zoology and Entomology recently renamed six of its rooms.

The initiative, deeply rooted in the University's commitment to foster inclusivity, acknowledges the rich tapestry of languages and cultures in the Rhodes University community.

Sibusiso Ngxingo, the Department Manager, emphasised that this renaming ceremony marks significant milestones, symbolising a departure from the past and a step towards a more inclusive future.

Head of Department Professor Nicole Richoux highlighted the importance of the occasion and its alignment with the University's mission to create an environment that embraces diversity and ensures that every member feels seen and heard.

According to Professor Tony Booth, the Dean of Science at Rhodes University, the significance of naming goes beyond mere nomenclature. It is deeply rooted in the University's commitment to a naming process that aligns with its vision and mission. Professor Booth stressed the importance of promoting inclusivity, redressing historical imbalances, and ensuring that the chosen names speak to the University's geographical location and cultural diversity.

Professor Richoux acknowledged the active involvement of staff and students in the naming process, as it ensured collective and inclusive decision-making.

The renamed spaces, each with symbolic meanings, reflect a thoughtful and deliberate approach to capturing their essence:

  1. Ihobo-hobo (tearoom/seminar room): This isiXhosa term, meaning Weaver bird, symbolises communal nests, wisdom, safety, protectiveness, and family. The room represents a space for sharing ideas and presentations.
  2. The Cocoon (Honours study): Reflecting the English meaning, this room serves as a place where students metamorphose and emerge, nurturing them for the job market or further studies.
  3. Ndlovukazi (large lecture/prac venue 1): Named after the isiXhosa word for Elephant matriarch, this room metaphorically represents leadership, nurturing, protection, and the passing on of wisdom.
  4. Toktokkie (medium lecture/prac venue 2): This Afrikaans term for darkling beetle reflects the intricate communication behaviour of the insects, woven into lectures on insects.
  5. Aardvark Laboratorium (medium lecture/prac venue 3): With this Afrikaans name for a type of anteater, it symbolises tackling challenges, with the aardvark metaphorically facing formidable termite mounds like students encountering new subjects.
  6. Physiology Laboratory (ground floor): As a departure from notable names, this laboratory is named for what it is, aligning with the practice of other laboratories associated with research groups.

The newly-named rooms carry a wealth of symbolism, each reflecting a unique aspect of the Department's ethos and values.

The hope is that these newly named spaces will not only be a testament to the Department's commitment to inclusivity but also serve as a constant reminder of the diverse voices that contribute to the rich tapestry of academic life. This renaming ceremony stands as a beacon, guiding the way towards a more unified, representative, and empowering future for all members of the Rhodes University community.