UWC adopts a fresh new identity: the Caracals

UWC sports a new identity and they are now known as Caracals. Photo: UWC

UWC sports a new identity and they are now known as Caracals. Photo: UWC

Published Feb 22, 2024


The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has started its academic year on a fresh note as it now sports a new identity for sporting teams — the Caracals.

The UWC community, particularly those in the sporting codes have for decades been referred to as “Bushies”, however, for some, the term carried apartheid connotations considered derogatory and lacked any substance.

With these concerns in mind, the leadership at the university bade farewell to its old moniker and brought forth a fresh identity: the Caracals.

Director of Sport at UWC and a member of the renaming committee, Mandla Gagayi said the new names draw from the inspiration of the stealthy wild cat that roams within the university’s nature reserve.

“The caracal’s characteristics mirror those of UWC students and staff — resilient, agile, well-honed and capable of punching above its weight. You will be surprised how a caracal takes down an animal twice its size. Our unique animal is right here on our doorstep, representing what we stand for. Let’s embrace that name,” Gagayi said.

He said some of the university’s alumni have long voiced their concerns about using the term “Bushies” and that the association with this derogatory term could be why some students were reluctant to participate in university activities.

The need for change was seen and UWC initiated its renaming process in 2021 which involved various departments and committees.

“The term ‘Bushies’ is not even an official name; it’s not part of any institutional policy. It’s simply a term that supporters and individuals adopted. This made it easier for us to navigate the change, as we’re not altering policy but merely shifting the narrative,” Gagayi said.

During a thorough consultation process which allowed the university community to submit proposed names and motivations, and despite over 30 suggestions, the name “caracal” consistently emerged with diverse motivations, yet, it all aligned with the essence of the university, it said.

The university confirmed it was in its final stages of procuring the new Caracal mascot, complete with graphics.

“We cannot cling to the artefacts of apartheid; they must find a place in the archives or museums while we introduce things that are representative of the current times. This shift represents our commitment to moving forward as a formerly disadvantaged university,” Gagayi said.

He further encouraged the university community to embrace the new mascot.

Director of the Department for Institutional Advancement Professor Anesh Singh welcomed the name change.

“It is a name shift but also talks about the uniqueness of UWC as well as the natural fauna and flora we have on campus. UWC is the third greenest campus in Africa.”

“Nobody knew how the Bushie should look like. At least it’s easier with the caracal. Its strength lies in the winning streak. Now, we will shift branding and make it more visible on campus and in the public domain,” Professor Singh said.

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