The South African Minister of Culture announced on February 24 that the South African city of Port Elizabeth is now called Gqeberha in order to “reflect the identity and heritage of the South African people”. A change that makes you cringe.
Port Elizabeth, about 960,000 inhabitants, is one of the first South African cities to be at the heart of a policy aimed at trying to erase South Africa’s colonial past. In comments relayed by several media, including CNN, the South African Minister of Culture Nathi Mthethwa formalized, after two years of negotiations, the fact that the city would become “Gqeberha”, to take up the indigenous language of the Xhosa people, one of the 11 official languages of the country and spoken by eight million inhabitants
“This name change is part of a government program intended to transform visible elements of our cultural heritage. Place names must reflect the identity and heritage of the South African people, ”said the Minister. However, this change is controversial: a petition against this political choice entitled “Let’s keep the name Port Elizabeth” gathered more than 47,300 signatures as of February 28. “There is so much more that the government can do with money rather than changing the names of cities and streets,” the document explains, among other things.
The pronunciation of the name of the city is also part of the criticisms of detractors who fear on the other hand a weakening of tourism.
The Democratic Alliance (centrist) is one of the political parties which also criticizes the choice to rename the names of the cities, which would have an estimated cost of several million rand (South African currency).
While ongoing rectification is crucial for our democratic nation, one has to question the timing & processing of the Eastern Cape’s multi-million rand name changes for places such as Port Elizabeth, which is now known as Gqeberha.
This & other top stories feature on Trending News. pic.twitter.com/x8wcpR8Krs
– Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) February 26, 2021
According to France 24, ten other cities in the country will soon be renamed to their original name, such as Cape Town or Durban.