What is the meaning of Bafana Bafana?

What is the meaning of Bafana Bafana?
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Many people do not know the meaning of Bafana Bafana as they take on the Super Eagles in the semi-final of AFCON 2023.

It is a rivalry that has brewed over the years since the return of the former apartheid enclave to the football fraternity. It is worth getting to know who the South African side are and the meaning of Bafana Bafana.

Bafana Bafana have won the Africa Cup of Nations once (1996) and are seeking their second title, while the Super Eagles seek their fourth title.

While the Nigerian side holds an edge over South Africa in the head-to-head stats, negating any idea of a rivalry, it would be a massive victory for Bafana Bafana should they beat the Super Eagles on Wednesday.

So, what is the meaning of Bafana Bafana?

The meaning of Bafana Bafana

The meaning of Bafana Bafana
Photo by Icon Sport

What is the meaning of Bafana Bafana? How did the South African national men’s football team get the name?

The word Bafana is a Zulu word, plural of Umfaan. It means boy. Thus, the meaning of Bafana Bafana is Boys Boys. The name was birthed by three Sowetan sports reporters shortly after the readmission of South Africa into World football.

The South African Football Federation (SAFA) owns Bafana Bafana, and they have had the honour of hosting AFCON in 1996 (they won) and the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

One can thus refer to the Bafana Bafana as the Boys the Boys.

The battle for the rights to the name Bafana Bafana

The meaning of Bafana Bafana
Photo by Icon Sport

South Africa had to battle to retain the name Bafana Bafana. There was a legal battle between Starton Woodrush and SAFA for the name ownership of Bafana Bafana.

The battle ended in 2011 when Dr Danny Jordaan announced they had settled for the name ownership.

Woodrush registered Bafana Bafana in 1993, a year after South Africa returned to world sports. SAFA, led by Solomon Morewa, went to court to regain the name but lost in 2005.

SAFA then agreed with Woodrush under the joint venture company SLAM to commercialise the Bafana Bafana rights.

Eventually, SAFA settled with Woodrush to relinquish his hold on the name, allowing the federation full rights to the name.

The trademark rights were transferred to SAFA, with Woodrush receiving an R5 million payment over 12 months.

The meaning of Bafana Bafana might be the boys, but SAFA fought like men to gain the exclusive rights to the name.

This article was most recently revised and updated 2 weeks ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.