Location: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Ethekwini » Durban

eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality is the Metropolitan Municipality created in 2000 that includes the city of Durban, South Africa and surrounding towns. eThekwini is one of the 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The majority of its 3 million people speak IsiZulu.

There is much debate over the meaning of eThekwini, and neither the eThekwini Heritage Department nor the eThekwini Metropolitan Unicity Municipality will state as an absolute fact the derivation of the name.

Some argue that the name is derived from a joke made by the leader of the amaThuli, Chief Shadwa, when the amaThuli settled on the bay; the story is that Chief Shadwa or a jester looked down from the area of today's Berea and said that the bay was a one testicled thing. Certainly, as Adrian Koopman points out in his brilliant work, "Zulu Names"[UNP; Pietermaritzburg-2002] , Elizabeth Pooley's "Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and the Transkei" has the Tonga-Kerrie recorded with the Zulu name umthekwini, referring to the single round fruit at the end of each stem. This shows that the term "itheku" is or has been used for a one-testicled animal or person, instead of today's "ithweka". It is the fact that the word "itheku" is not used today that leads many to believe that the legend of Shadwa's joke is a myth.

Janie Malherbe made the claim that Bishop Colenso advocated the meaning in his pioneering Zulu to English dictionary of an "open mouth or a bay" for iTeku because of modesty- clearly she did not read his dictionary, which unblushingly gives many explicit words and their definitions.

Commandant Sighurt Bourquin, the well-known authority on the Zulu, pointed out that the shape of the harbour would not be readily apparent when it was covered with mangroves viewed obliquely through the trees.

Probably eThekwini is probably the locative form of itheku- bay, lagoon. There is however a suggestion that it is derived from the Xhosa iteko- a meeting place, and brought to the area by the British Settlers in 1824, many of whom had learnt Xhosa whilst in the Cape

 

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