At least 73 students have been suspended from Nkoma Secondary School in Mbale district for using nicknames at school. The school authorities said that was an act of indiscipline.
Each of the suspended students received the expulsion note instructing them not to return to school after the Easter break. The same list was attached to a circular that was sent out to all parents and copied to the Chairman of the School’s Board of Governors, and PTA.
Some of the nicknames that landed the students in trouble include Missed Call, Big Foot, Robot, Chemical, Fake Dollar, Land Mine, Diesel, Voltage, Headex, Twine Temper, War Girl, Criminal, Smart Wire and Cash PRO. Others include Cobra, Maje and Cash Prince, among others.
It is not clear, even to the school authorities, how the names were generated, however, according to the school head teacher Yakoub Mwesigwa; the students had substituted their real names with nicknames on their books and for some of them, even on the school register.
One student of Nkoma SS who preferred anonymity said that each of the students was forced to reveal their pseudo-identity when threatened with suspension.
Nicknames have over the years been a universal feature of school life. They are often used to express contempt or dislike while others express one’s physical description (appearance) behaviour, religion, culture and personality.