In 1902 when the South African War came to an end there was an urgent need for schools in the Transvaal. The Milner Administration, looking round for suitable buildings in which to establish temporary classrooms, found a vacant cigar factory on the corner of Gold and Kerk Streets in Johannesburg and there established “The Government High School for Boys”, also known as the “Johannesburg High School for Boys”. Thus was born a school that was to ultimately to become the renowned King Edward VII School.

It grew so rapidly that in 1904 it was moved to Barnato Park where it was established in the mansion that originally had been designed for Barney Barnato, the mining millionaire. Here it was known as “Johannesburg College”. But these premises soon proved inadequate and in 1911 the school was finally moved to a new site on the Houghton ridge where magnificent buildings had been specially designed for the school, and it became the School’s new home. All this came about shortly after the founding of the Union of South Africa and the death of King Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s eldest son. To honour his memory the school was granted the right to change its name to King Edward VII School.

The School remains a Government Secondary School, with an enrolment of over 1000 boys in Grades 8 – 12 (ages 13 to 18). King Edward VII Preparatory School, which is situated adjacent to the High School and shares its grounds, caters for boys from Grades 1 to 7.



King Edward VII School, set on the ridge in Upper Houghton celebrates its Centenary in 2002. The School Building is a declared National Monument but in a literal and figurative sense the School’s contribution to South African Society and beyond has been monumental. Thousands of young boys later to become wonderfully successful men in many diverse spheres entered the portals of the School and came to associate the buildings and fields with a gamut of emotions.  Young men today, the very future of our rainbow nation tread in the footsteps of many who have shaped our nation’s progress.

The School remains one of South Africa’s preeminent public schools – a cornerstone of our nation’s transforming education system – one that is absolutely vital to South Africa competing as a world-class nation.  No other school can compare with the fact that out of eight categories of South Africa’s greatest achievers of the past century chosen by The Financial Mail, three were educated at King Edward VII School. The rounded and balanced education for which King Edward VII School is famed would not have been possible had it not been for an ethos created by excellent headmasters, dedicated and (often) inspirational teachers and raw material – young men of talent and determination. The alumni of the School are indebted to the Headmasters and staff who have nurtured the seedlings, not always with tenderness, and seen yearly crops emerge with the skills, disciplines and manners to ensure they would compete with the best of the rest.

In a country that has seen remarkable and largely peaceful change to true democracy the values encapsulated in the School’s mission and goals remain constant, the beacon to strive for the highest standards. The standard of morals, dress, manners, academic, cultural and sporting excellence remains very high.  The war cry remains the same, the tempo slightly different. The “morning sir” no less frequent. The School buildings and grounds are generally maintained to the highest standards with new signage and clear signs of the modern era – (tradition with excellence).  The School remains at the cutting edge of education ever mindful of the School’s ethos.

Whilst all the formal and informal aspects of education are interwoven, extra-mural activities often teach lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom. The academic side of the School, often unfairly obscured behind sporting bravado and achievements is not King Edward VII’s “best kept secret” – it is well known that not only the names that appear in gold lettering on the paneling of the School Hall but many more have made their mark on South African business, industry, the professions and academia.

Financial Mail’s Entrepreneur of the 20th Century Donald Gordon, Sir Mark Weinberg, Sir Sydney Lipworth, Tony Bloom, Eugene van As, Derek Keys, Justice Richard Goldstone, Sir Sydney Kentridge, Justice Johann Kriegler, Minister Ronnie Kasrils, the names keep rolling on. Not all of the School’s most successful achievers were great scholars but maybe this is not so ironic because the School equipped these young men to be successful. Of course, the School’s sporting achievements and the ballyhoo or prestige attached to cricket, rugby, hockey, swimming, waterpolo, athletics, rowing and all the traditional sports plus some relatively new ones have sparked the imagination and helped to project an image of the school which by and large has made us all very proud. The balanced products of the School have managed to keep the sporting facets of the School in perspective. For some, the School sport was only the launching pad for careers in sport.

Financial Mail and many other publications’ SA Sportsman of the Century, Gary Player, Ali Bacher, Buster Nupen, Dennis Begbie, Paul Winslow, Kevin McKenzie, Hugh Page, Neil McKenzie, Adam Bacher, Graeme Smith, Nick Pothas, Joe van Niekerk, Hugh Bladen and the list goes on. Hundreds of names that have graced South Africa’s and the world’s sporting arenas, sometimes also shaping sports with their vision and administrative skills. The sector of the School’s endeavours that has received least publicity but is no less outstanding than the academic and sport is the cultural side. On the cultural side the Dramatic Society, Debating, Chess, the Choir and many other pursuits continue.  William Kentridge, Financial Mail’s Artist of the 20th Century, Digby Hoets, Bryce Courtenay, Stephen Clingman, Michael Meyersfeld and once again the list goes on.

One of the most important milestones was in 1976 when the Summa Cum Laude award was instituted – colours for academics, sport and cultural.  This is the pinnacle of achievement at the School and many young men including this year’s Head Prefect Wakule Tshabangu have attained this magnificent honour.

However, probably what sets King Edward VII School apart is the spirit and camaraderie that the School has engendered.  The School’s loyal men have fought wars and the School has the highest number of fallen outside Great Britain from the 2 Great Wars.  Alumni have fought for freedom and democracy in South Africa and for justice throughout the World. Above all King Edward VII School’s alumni have a loyalty to their friends and schoolmates and a generosity of spirit, which cannot easily be matched anywhere – a legacy which all great schools admire.

And it is this that sets us apart and makes us special – “sons of this place”.

Sons of this place, let this of you be said:
That you who live are worthy of your dead
Inscription, Great War Cenotaph
King Edward VII School


Worzim Gimgovi Ljakobo Iswazo: These names of the chameleon and three camp attendants no longer introduce the War Cry.

Itchy ballagota, Skiet a ramma doota: Onomatopoeic gibberish describing the whole range of musketry.

Swaskinora sinigenafta boom:  Today this reads SusKanada, Son of KaRnovski
, boom.

Putting haas! Putting haas!: A polite reference to the castor oil mixed with rice pudding to keep the troops healthy.

Gee gimalayo! Gee!, Gee gimalayo! Gee!: From the War Cry of the 1st infantry Brigade in France during the First World War, which were the first lines to the War Cry prior to 1924.

Teddybears Wha!, Who are we? Teddybears!: These lines date back to 1912.