GEORGE NEWS - In February, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa announced several name changes in the Eastern Cape which he indicated were for transformation purposes. The Southern Cape is now next in line.
The city "George" as we knew it will be called Goringhaikona (//Kurin gai-Quena). The name means "seafood collectors" (Strandlopers). As many Afrikaans speakers in George use the directly translated pronunciation "Gee-oorgggh", it was felt that it should not be too difficult for them to say "//Kurin gai-Quena".
The decision was officially approved and gazetted by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday 31 March (George Herald has a copy of the Government Gazette - see link).
In 2020, Mthethwa recommended an audit of offensive names, saying that it was unacceptable that South Africa's black majority population and early indigenous peoples are still a cultural minority when it comes to apartheid and colonial symbols still dominating the landscape.
"There was a need for the name changes as this is part of a national programme to transform South Africa's heritage landscape. The names of places we live in must not reflect the Colonial Kings but the identity and cultural heritage of the people of South Africa," he said.
The town of George was proclaimed by the Earl of Caledon, governor of the Cape Colony, on St George's Day, 23 April 1811, and named after the then reigning British monarch, King George III.
Mthethwa also said that "King George III was mad and it cannot be that we have a place named after him, especially as he was not a friend of Africa".
Adele Josi of the Businesswomen's Association of South Africa (Bwasa) had proposed that in support of the Gender Equality Act (RTI 2004, 27, 181), which was passed on 7 April 2004, female names should be considered when reviewing the Geographical Names Act.
The Bwasa submission was that the name George should change to Georgina, making it easy to change addresses on letterheads, maps and road signs. This was not accepted by the Minister as he "did not want a gender war".
It is understood that the local municipality is in discussion with the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to get the signboards changed as soon as possible. As Sanral does not have sufficient funds due to non-payment of toll fees in Gauteng, changing the signs is expected to take place over a long period. To comply as soon as possible with the gazetted name change, temporary "edits" are being made to the road signs around Goringhaikona (see photographs).
The (now) Goringhaikona Airport also changes its name as stated in the Government Gazette (link available if required).
It is rumoured that other seaside towns in the Southern Cape will soon have their names changed and that Great Brak River may get a literal Xhosa translation to "Umlambo-omkhulu-wenja".
"The South African Geographical Names Act provides for objections within 365 days from members of the public in instances that they are not happy with the gazette name changes," Mthethwa said. "Therefore, any objections must be submitted by 1 April 2022."
Gotcha! Happy April Fool's Day! The author, Ritchie Morris, is a semi-retired earth and water scientist living inland of Sedgefield developing a free-spirited descriptive imagination driven by fresh air, fine friends, beautiful views and a well-stocked wine cellar.
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