Where do the NWU residences' names come from? Which of them are the oldest?


In this article we look at the history of the residences on our campus in Vanderbijlpark.



Current “homes away from home”


Today there are two “day residences” for day students on the campus in Vanderbijlpark (Oryx for the men and Acacia for the women), and also on-campus and off-campus residences.


On-campus residences


  • Vergelegen
  • Jasmyn
  • Thuthuka (This is an isiZulu word meaning “to improve”.)
  • Horizon (postgraduate housing)
  • Kumba (This Swahili word means “at home”.)


Off-campus residences


  • Bohlale (This Northern Sesotho word means “wisdom”.)
  • Faranani (This is a Venda word meaning “let’s take hands together”.)
  • Longfellow
  • Ebukhosini (This is an isiZulu word meaning “at the royal place”.)



How lovely to live next to the Vaal

What can one deduce from names like Oripad and Timbuctu for residences?

Take a guess. Oripad residence was probably just across the road from something else and Timbuctu probably a day’s journey on horseback from the other university buildings.


Indeed. Oripad, the first non-official residence of what is today our campus in Vanderbijlpark, was just across from the university buildings in Goodyear Street in those days. Likewise, Timbuctu stood alone on a large area of land and was quite far away from the lecture halls and cafeteria.


Oripad was established in 1982 in a building that had previously been a library and could accommodate 30 students. A few years later, from 1985 to 1988, the university started with the first phase of a residence complex on the current campus grounds. Timbuctu, the first official residence building, could accommodate only 25 students.


But oh dear, the name Timbuctu sounded very foreign to the sensitive ears of the honorary degree committee and therefore the name was changed to De Wilgers in 1989. This name was also quite suitable, as the campus is situated on the banks of the Vaal River.


In 1992 the name of this residence scored a hat trick when the Faculty of Engineering moved to Potchefstroom and De Wilgers’ name was changed to Vergelegen. This name once more indicated that, just like Timbuctu of old, it was quite far from the other buildings.


In 1989 female students moved into the new residence, Jasmyn. At that stage, the day students were allocated to so-called “day residences”. Some of the first day residences were Njala, Soenie, Poekoe, Oorbietjie, Amabhubesi (lion), and Dishweshwe (beautiful lady).




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