East London to be renamed, and it’s likely to be Gompo

Port Elizabeth is history. The biggest metro in the province is now called Gqeberha.

Even though East London had a Xhosa name, eMonti, the now proposed East London name change is KuGompo.
Image: GRAHAM TIMMS

East London is next and metro residents are likely to awake soon in Gompo — the name awaiting the signature of arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa, according to provincial arts and culture MEC Fezeka Nkomonye.

She said a welter of name changes which kicked in on Tuesday were being done in the name of transformation.

Those who felt aggrieved by the changes had a window to lodge objections with the national government, Nkomonye said.

The new names were gazetted by Mthethwa on Tuesday.

The minister also corrected misspelt village names.

Gompo has been a popular name during the recent consultation processes.

Also tossed in the bin of history at the stroke of an official pen are East London Airport, which becomes King Phalo Airport, King William’s Town, which is now Qonce, Berlin, which is Ntabozuko, and Maclear, which will now be known as Nqanqarhu.

Uitenhage is replaced by Kariega and Port Elizabeth Airport, taking the name of a Khoi and San chief, becomes Dawid Stuurman International Airport.

Nkomonye on Wednesday said the renaming of East London was now before Mthethwa, who was expected to pronounce on it soon.

“It’s on the minister’s table. All the documents were sent to him.

“Remember public hearings were held in King William’s Town, Berlin and East London. So the new name of East London is on the list that the minister was furnished with.

“Maybe he is still applying his mind wisely, consulting with the SA Geographic Names Committee council’s recommendations before approving the proposed name as furnished to him,” Nkomonye said.

The MEC said all necessary consultations had been held, research was undertaken, and public hearings conducted.

All views were considered before the new names were officially unveiled by Mthethwa.

“Consultation meetings and public hearings have been held since 2018 and these new names were the most popular.

“As the department, we do not come up with these names. Ours is to support the process to ensure that it is done correctly.

“These names came from the people in those areas. There was an opportunity for people to comment and object to the proposed names, and after that process, these names gazetted this week were the popular ones from such processes,” Nkomonye said.

Asked about the importance of renaming some of these places, Nkomonye said: “The department has a mandate to contribute to the broader transformation agenda of the country, starting with the name change, which is one of the steps we take to achieve that.

“It cannot be that in over 25 years of democracy, we still speak about names that do not represent the indigenous people of this province.

“So it is necessary that we embark on this process to make sure that places are called by the names that their people can associate with.

“It cannot be right that we still identify places with colonial names, while there are names that people want their places to be associated with.”

Nkomonye said the name change process had been budgeted for and service delivery money had not been diverted for the renaming exercise.

“If we keep postponing this process due to service delivery challenges we will never get to a point where we fully transform the province and have names that talk to our identities.

“It is evident that people do not want to be associated with these colonial names.”

The Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders welcomed the renaming of the two provincial airports after traditional leaders.

ASANDA NINI

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