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Does SA need to change place names? Yes or no.

By admin
30 November 2013

Teaser: Some towns in South Africa are getting new names or old ones are being corrected. Is this necessary?

No. Primrose Bokwana (39) of Mthatha, Eastern Cape, says the entire process of place name changes is a waste of money. “What is the use of changing town names if people living in them are poor?” she asks. There are far more urgent things that need to be fixed. Primrose gives as examples unemployment, HIV treatment and poverty. “Our government should concentrate on these matters because many people are suffering,” she says.

She does not see how changing a street or town name can improve people’s lives. She adds that a starving person does not care if Umtata is changed to Mthatha. “People want jobs,” Primrose says. She thinks the money would be better spent elsewhere.

She also says that many people continue using the old names even when new ones are given. She highlights that there could be a problem in an area where more than one ethnic group lives. Some people may feel excluded if their language or their history is not reflected, she says. There has also been tension, because certain political parties are using only the names of their struggle heroes to rename certain places.

Primrose says that we should wait until our democracy is a bit older before we change names. “We can do better things for our country,” she says.