Community dialogue audience given the floor on name changes

Comments that flooded in during Herald/ NMU event last week reflect passionate views

The Herald/ NMU What's in a Name Community Dialogue prompted a flood of comment from the virtual audience
HALLOWED GROUND: The Herald/ NMU What's in a Name Community Dialogue prompted a flood of comment from the virtual audience
Image: KAREN VAN ROOYEN

The Herald/ NMU What’s in a Name Community Dialogue prompted a flood of comments from the virtual audience.

Their comments for and against streamed in last week before and during the debate, which focused on three proposed name changes: Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, Uitenhage to Kariega and Port Elizabeth International Airport to Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport.

Five experts had their say and we communicated their views as fully as possible — but this week we thought it important to give the floor to the audience.

What’s in a name? Geographical renaming remains an emotive issue that is often divisive – as we have witnessed with the recent renaming of Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, Uitenhage to Kariega and the PE Airport to Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport.

Nearly 100 comments were fielded, most opposing the change. They included these:

Vuyelwa: “The name changers’ priorities and focus are upside down. You’ll soon hear that there’s a commission of inquiry re tenders for name changes. Our taxes!!!!!!”

Nathi Ngabase: “Waste of money which could have been used to save livelihoods of our severely needy people.”

Awonke: “I support the name change. Transformation is needed. However, citizens need to be included in the process.”

Philile Mhlongo: “I support the name changes as long they address culture, diversity and transformation for a better future and the process is fair to all that are affected.”

Otto Bukani: “ Would it really be important to call PE Gqeberha instead of discovering a scientist that is hidden in the valley of Mqanduli?  I personally think keeping reminders of the past will help our children know what really happened back then.”

Willy de Jong: “I do not agree with the name changes as it will affect our economy in a very negative way and kill our inbound tourism business.”

Sandi Krige: “I like that all cultures and languages are represented but think that hunger during Covid and NMB’s serious water problem should be the priority now.”

Philipp Gutsche: I would favour the name change incorporating the name Mandela.”

Jackie Serfontein: I do not support the name change. Changing names does not correct the past. People’s behaviour needs to change. We all need to be the surgeons of change. Stop killing a dying Port Elizabeth.”

Phiwokuhle Katshiwe: “A lot people don’t understand the name [Gqeberha]. It needs to be changed to iBhayi.”

Paulette Coetzee: “I support the name changes. Names have great symbolic and cultural importance and are an important aspect of ongoing decolonisation.”

(Former National Prosecuting Authority boss) Vusi Pikoli: “Decolonisation of the mind takes longer than the struggle for national liberation. I support the name change for as long it restores the dignity of the previously oppressed majority. The process has to fair and procedural so as to have legitimacy.”

Chris Allen: “Have a referendum when we have the local government elections. Ask residents first whether the name PE or Uitenhage needs to be changed. Then provide a list of proposed names including the current names. That is democracy at work.”

Edward Colin Gutsche: “Cost for my small business to change graphics and letterheads and so on is just over R20,000. Multiply R20,000 by all the other businesses in PE and I estimate over R100m. That is wasted expenditure that could be used on far more important issues such as job creation, eradicating pit latrines, building schools, bursaries for university students.”

Graham Taylor: “If the matter was thoroughly considered, where can we find the documentation considering the name changes?

Bill Harington: “The name change will constitute a breach of the compromise that was entered into in 1994, according to which it was agreed that municipalities will be given new names while the names of towns and cities are retained as is.”

Mandilakhe M: “We can’t be bullied like this because of a group.”

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