The word spells baboons backwards and existed before it was allegedly used to refer to black pupils at Kingswood College.
A social media post shared by pupils of Kingswood College in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) has highlighted racial tensions at the exclusive private school, as well as introduced South Africans to a new racial slur.
“Snoobab”, which spells baboons backwards, was a term reportedly used by white pupils to refer to their black counterparts at the school, according to City Press.
An outcry on social media erupted after the two white girls at the school who accused each other of racism and xenophobia were found not guilty following a disciplinary process.
The process was conducted by a “highly qualified black woman”, who found that there “mutually destructive versions” of what happened “by both sides”, college head Colleen Vassiliou told City Press.
“This verdict, by someone of her expertise, cannot be ignored or overturned by the school,” she added.
The incident brought racial tensions at the school to the fore, Vassiliou acknowledged.
The story by City Press has led to much discussion on Twitter around the word ‘snoobab’.
A search for the word reveals that it is not the invention of the Makhanda schoolchildren. It is even defined on Urban Dictionary as “a racial comment” in a post from back in 2007.