For those of you that have spent the last few days under a rock, let’s recap: The ANC Government officially approved a name change for Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, meaning that the city would be known as Gqeberha going forward. The decision was made in order to ‘better represent’ African heritage – and move away from a colonial past.
Gqeberha: What other names for Port Elizabeth were considered?
However, the name has caused a bit of controversy – and some people are struggling with the ‘clicks’ needed to pronounce Gqeberha. The cost of upgrading road signs and rebranding Port Elizabeth is set to run into the millions, too. All in all, the renaming process has been relatively divisive… but could a different moniker have quelled the public’s anger?
According to ‘renaming committee’ sources in the Eastern Cape, there were two other names on the table alongside Gqeberha: Both iBhayi and Nelson Mandela City were also in the running, before the province settled on the isiXhosa name for Walmer Township – one of the first and oldest settlements in Port Elizabeth.
Port Elizabeth ‘had other options’ apart from Gqeberha
Whereas Nelson Mandela City drew an underwhelming response, social media users had been clamouring for the use of iBhayi earlier this week, as it remains a popular colloquial reference for the city (translating to ‘The Bay’).
If there was really no choice to rename, I think that the proper isiXhosa name for Port Elizabeth "iBhayi" would have been a better pick than Gqeberha.
— Levi (@UBGK12) February 24, 2021
The committee’s spokesperson, Andile Nduna, explained how the process for renaming a location in South Africa works. He has denied that the public wasn’t consulted properly about Gqeberha, saying there were ‘fair opportunities’.
“If a consensus on the new name has been reached amongst all relevant stakeholders, the Committee makes recommendations to the national South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC).”
“They will then examine the processes, followed in coming to the conclusion that such a name should be standardised or accepted before the name is gazetted for public comments, acceptance or rejection.”
Uitenhage: Kariega name change could also have been different
Uitenhage, which lies to the north of Port Elizabeth, also got a designatory makeover when it became ‘Kariega’ on Tuesday. However, much like Port Elizabeth and its transition to Gqeberha, things could have been different for the suburb: The committee tabled the following options to locals attending the public hearings back in 2018.
- – Garden Town
- – Kariega
- – Tolofiyeni
- – Kamesh