President Cyril Ramaphosa says that government plans to rename more towns and cities as it works to ‘transform the heritage landscape’ of the country.
In a Heritage Day address on Thursday (24 September), the president said that building a united nation means the country must be aware of and check its own acts of racism and prejudice continuously.
“The naming and renaming of towns and cities forms part of this, as well as the erection of new statues and monuments. Monuments glorifying our divisive past should be repositioned and relocated,” he said.
“This has generated controversy, with some saying we are trying to erase our history.” The president said that any symbol, monument or activity that glorifies racism, that represents the country’s ugly past, has no place in democratic South Africa.
“The struggle against apartheid was first and foremost aimed at ensuring that all our people should reclaim their dignity, black and white. Restoring their dignity is the preoccupation of this administration.
“In the wake of Covid-19, and well into the future, it will remain our singular concern.”
The Eastern Cape government is currently considering an official name change for several towns in the province as part of a programme aimed at transforming the country’s geographic landscape to be more representative of its people.
The major metropolitan of East London has been identified as one of the towns which could see a change, with KuGompo provided as an alternate name.
Other proposed changes include:
- King William’s Town renamed to Qonce;
- Berlin renamed to Ntabozuko;
- East London Airport renamed to King Phalo Airport.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says that his department is also considering a report on the renaming of the country’s airports.
Mbalula said that the report includes the outcome of public submissions with respect to the renaming of Cape Town International Airport.
He said that the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has also embarked on a project to rename East London Airport, Port Elizabeth International Airport and Kimberley Airport.
“This is in line with the South African Geographical Names Council Act and is part of the Transformation of Heritage Landscape Government Programme.
“According to the act, the Minister of Arts and Culture is responsible for the approval of geographical names after receiving recommendations from the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC).”
The SAGNC is responsible for geographical features of national concern including, but not limited to, towns/cities, suburbs and any form of human settlement, post offices, stations, highways, airports and government dams.
The council is also responsible for natural landforms like mountains, hills, rivers, streams, bays, headlands and islands.