By Mamela Gowa
Non-Xhosa speakers and South African tourists have been encouraged to learn how to pronounce isiXhosa names as the consultation phase of changing Buffalo City Metro’s geographical names moved to ward 26 yesterday.
Ward 26 – which includes Newlands, Macleantown, Potsdam East, Zikwaba, St Marys, Kwetyana, KwaMpundu and Nqonqweni – is one of the wards that has a number of proposed geographical name changes.
The Nahoon Dam’s suggested new name is Ichibi laseNxarhuni, Nahoon River’s is Nxarhuni, Macleantown’s is Mpongo and Newlands, Khwetyana.
It is also proposed that Nahoon residential suburb be changed to Nxarhuni.
During a consultative meeting between the BCM District Geographical Name Change Council (DGNC) and ward 26 residents yesterday, resident Bonisile Grey said: “Many of our names were changed under the apartheid government. Nxarhuni was changed to Nahoon or Newlands.
“I live in Mpongo and wanted to come to this meeting because Mpongo, which is now Mcleantown, was originally named Mpongo and I would like us to go back to the original names.
“In all honesty, this is not Newlands, this is Nxarhuni. Some people call this place KwaMvalo. When amabhulu [the boers] found it difficult to pronounce the names of our places, they changed the names all over South Africa.
“If you go to China, they have Chinese names. As a tourist there you have to learn to pronounce the names as the places are not named to accommodate people in Britain, like King William’s Town, where we celebrate a British king,” Grey said.
He added that black people should not be apologetic towards their old oppressors when changing these names.
“That is our responsibility. Even if it could be seen as costly to other people, to us it is not costly. We are proud of the names because we want it to be known where we are from,” explained Grey, while other residents nodded in agreement.
Another resident, Grey Dyakumeni, said he was in support of the change. However, residents needed to be given a chance to deal with the matter according to their different areas.
“How much is this all going to cost? We should not be rushed, as this is a serious matter,” he said.
BCM DGNC chairman and local economic development portfolio head Mawethu Marata urged residents not to focus only on Nxarhuni name changes, but also to look at other East London areas, including the City Hall, East London Airport and Berlin.
The next consultative meeting will take place in Gompo Hall tomorrow. -firstname.lastname@example.org