Eastern Cape name changes are here to stay, arts minister says

In a statement, the minister said he would like to ensure that the names of places in South Africa reflect the languages, culture and heritage of the majority of the country’s population instead of reflecting the colonial past and apartheid of the country.

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa during a press conference on the coronavirus on March 25, 2020 in Pretoria. Image: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Arts Minister Nathi Mthethwa has dismissed all objections to the recent name changes to the Eastern Cape.

In February, Mthethwa announced several name changes to Nelson Mandela Bay, including the name change from Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, which he indicated for transformation.

This prompted a backlash from the municipality and residents who filed a petition against the name changes.

Objections ranged from the claim that insufficient consultation had been carried out at the local level and that the name change would scare tourists away.

Spokesman Masechaba Khumalo said that after meeting with the South African Council of Geographical Names, the minister decided that not all objections merited consideration.

“These name changes included renaming from Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, Utenhage to Kariega, King William’s Town to Qonce, East London Airport to King Phalo Airport and Port Elizabeth Airport to Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport. The Minister wishes to reiterate and ensure that the place names in South Africa reflect the languages, culture and heritage of the majority of that country’s population instead of reflecting the country’s colonial and apartheid past.

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