Yesterday, South Africa woke up to the news that the Sport, Arts and Culture Minister has announced a number of changes for towns, cities and airports in the Eastern Cape. These changes have been published in our Government Gazette that was issued out on the 23rd of February 2021. The Gazette also includes a number of spelling corrections for existing geographical names, as well as official registrations of new names. The transformation of the naming landscape is a critical component of the Heritage landscape as a whole.
The most notable change in the Eastern Cape Province is that of Port Elizabeth, which is now known as Gqeberha. The Port Elizabeth International Airport is now known as the Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport. East London Airport is now the King Phalo Airport. Uitenhage is now Kariega. King William’s Town is now Qonce. Maclear is now Nqanqa Rhu.
Minister Nathi Mthethwa said “There was a need for the name changes as this is part of a Government Programme to transform South Africa’s Heritage landscape. The names of places we live in reflect the identity and cultural heritage of the people of South Africa.”
The South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) Act 118 of 1998 provides for the transformation of South Africa’s naming landscape. As such, more name changes will be submitted to the SAGNC and the Minister in the future, provided that public consultations are conducted by the Provincial Geographical Names Committee before such name changes are submitted to the Minister for his consideration.
All the Gazetted names come from the Eastern Cape and were submitted to the South African Geographical Names Committee from the Eastern Cape.
Prior to the changes, the Provincial Geographical Names Committee conducted public consultations on all the names that were changed. The South African Geographical Names Act provides for objections within 30 days from members of the public in instances that they are not happy with the Gazette name changes.
Source: Government of South Africa