Mount Mandela mooted for Drakensberg

2011-03-08 12:44

Pietermaritzburg - Splendid rainbows are a feature of KwaZulu-Natal's central Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg mountains.

But the mountain range no longer towers above a rainbow nation, laments John Tungay, who founded the famous Drakensberg Boys' Choir School and was a facilitator of negotiations during the final days of apartheid.

He feels it will help if the name of former president Nelson Mandela finds its way onto the map.

He wants the 3 149-metre Cathkin Peak, known in isiZulu as Mdedelolo, to become Mount Mandela; or at least to have the name Mandela incorporated into it.

Rainbow nation

"If there's such a Mandela icon, one can in times of great trouble refer back to such leaders of the past whom we can honour," says Tungay who now lives in Howick, in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

"And we can revert to being a rainbow nation because we aren't one now."

He says: "I would think Mandela is above ordinary party politics."

While Tungay's proposal has not yet reached official channels, it has prompted responses in letters to the editor in his town's newspaper, Village Talk.

A "member of the Zunckel family" - a name associated with the mountain range - requests Tungay to "please leave the naming of the peaks in our beloved berg alone".

He fails to find any reference to Mandela in his research about the mountains, whether climbing the 'Berg or assisting with 'Berg rescues.

Music concert

However, Tungay says Madiba was guest of honour at a music concert attended by 300 people on a piece of flat ground near the summit of Cathkin Peak in 1995.

Mandela, three choirs, other guests and support staff reached the spot by helicopter.

The on-site tuning of a piano at such high altitude was even submitted to the Guinness Book of Records.

Tungay was not there himself, but someone who was is Bunny Ashley-Botha, former director of music at the Drakensberg Boys' Choir School.

"It was a perfect day," he recalls.

"A helicopter flew above us with what was the new flag on the end of a stick. It flew over a gap between Cathkin Peak and Monk's Cowl.

"President Mandela said he wanted to stay on and meet all the performers and kitchen staff. They all lined up to meet this wonderful man on top of the mountain overlooking KwaZulu-Natal."

The concert marked the 75th anniversary of the SA National Air Force.

Ashley-Botha says he had often complained to the Air Force that the noise its choppers at a nearby base interfered with singing practices at the Drakensberg Boys' Choir School.

"I got in touch with the chief of the Air Force who decided on the concert to reward us for all the disturbances."

The school's choir was one of three that performed.

Cathkin dates back to 1863

Another letter writer Martin Winter says: "The history of the naming of Cathkin Peak is an interesting one that dates back to 1863, so surely this should be left to stand.

"It is no way politically offensive and it is part of the history of the mountain, having been named by people with a keen interest in the mountain at the time.

"It would indeed be unwise to set a precedent of renaming Drakensberg peaks after prominent South Africans no matter how great their services may have been.

"A present or future authority could well ignore or over-ride years of pioneering history that had gone before."

Winter notes that Cathkin Peak features frequently in the Journals of the Mountain Club of South Africa that commenced in 1897.

"The first ascent of Cathkin Peak in 1912 would have been recorded in the annals of the Drakensberg Club formed in 1910 and later in 1919, by the Natal Mountain Club.

"The naming, and particularly the renaming of peaks in the Drakensberg, should be the concern of those organisations whose aims are, amongst others, 'to initiate and support the actions towards the protecting the natural beauty and wilderness character of the mountains', or at the very least, in consultation with them".

Economic spin-offs

However, Tungay says that having a mountain called Mount Mandela would have economic spin-offs.

"In years to come, when people from overseas visit KwaZulu-Natal, many will want to see a mountain named after South Africa's most famous and revered citizen.

"The best place for this happens to be in the central Drakensberg where there are already splendid hotels and hundreds of houses that are let out."

Tungay says he sees no chance of the destruction of the Drakensberg to create a feature like that on Mount Rushmore, where the heads of early United Sates presidents are carved into the landscape.

"Our San paintings throughout the Drakensberg are our highest art forms and long may they remain so."

  • Cynical Sci - 2011-03-08 12:54

    Surely we have other grand peaks that could be named instead. Might even aid tourisms in those areas.

      Joe Soap - 2011-03-08 13:24

      Yeah, why not name one of the peaks in the Eatern Cape after him, after all that's where he hails from and heaven knows that poor province can do with some tourism

      matla - 2011-03-08 15:51

      Joe Soap i have to say this - 'you are a racist in the mould of VERWOED'

      Andy49 - 2011-03-08 17:25

      @matla Why, what is RACIST about Joes' comment?

      Great White - 2011-03-08 21:28

      Matla, you are the weakest link...

      Stox - 2011-03-09 13:43


      Stox - 2011-03-09 13:46

      Stox: "Hmm, I really enjoy a good scratch in the morning!" Matla: "OMG! WTF?! You are so RACIST! WHIIIITE PEEPHOL!!! This is a revolutionary, nationalized forum! Get out you BLUDDY AGENT!" LOL! Race card fail!

      Khoisan X - 2011-08-16 12:21

      what makes Joe Soap racist? I couldnt have said it better myself and im as black as they come

  • Jaimo - 2011-03-08 13:13

    Pathetic suggestion! M has no attachment to the DBerg - maybe change Robin Island to Mandela Island.

      POLLENYS - 2011-03-08 13:38

      Sounds like some more gatkruiping. People are just besotted with this man.

      The Observer - 2011-03-08 14:28

      Agreed. He was not that great, look at the mess we sit in now.

      Great White - 2011-03-08 21:37

      Whichever way you look at it; whether the man is an icon or not, he still remains contentuous. I don't believe the 'Berg should lose it's apolitical status. The current regime and their lapdogs, like Tungay, should rather stear clear of renaming landmarks. Go and score your political points elsewhere.

  • JG - 2011-03-08 13:13

    Has John Tungay got nothing better to do. If we carry on like this nobody will recognise any left in the place called South Africa. The final nail will then be to rename it to Azania. Really confuse the hell out of the world and kill off all our trade.

  • KyleAssassin - 2011-03-08 13:15

    I have a mole hill in my garden we can name after him!

      Vaal Donkie - 2011-03-08 14:18

      White people don't have a phucken mother. That's part of the traditional African heritage. We only recognise Biological mother, Adopted mother and legal guardian. Phucken Mother is a tribal construct which is totally foreign to westerners (and I believe to orientals too).

      The Observer - 2011-03-08 14:29

      Vaalie, hahahahahahaha

  • Scottykira - 2011-03-08 13:16

    SERIOUSLY! when will this stop, next they will want to rename table mountain, LEAVE THE NAMES ALONE!!! I have no problem with traditional names for mountains being used in their language but in English and Afrikaans they should be known in theirs \_/

      tshepotheterminator - 2011-03-08 14:28

      table mountains turn is coming dont worry..... first cape town will be renamed to ANC city then table mountain will have its name changed....there will be nothing western about south africa in 5 years. i think this is a nice idea actually.... cathkin peak means nothing to us africans.... nice idea... good one

      chrismtb007 - 2011-03-09 13:07

      @ Tshepo, you dumb ass racist!!! The western Cape is DA and not ANC, the western cape have the best service delivery in the whole country by far, the ANC is in control of all these failed provinces and they are failing more and more... Now, for the ANC to rename table mountain, they will first have to win the local elections, and trust me, that aint gonna be easy, the people in the western cape has brains, they know what your corrupt, racist, raping, slandering and killing party is all about... so good luck to you in naming anything in the western cape , which traditionally belonged to the Khoisan, and not YOUR forefathers... SUCK ON THAT!!!!

  • Badger - 2011-03-08 13:18

    Mount Mandela, Mandela Square, Madiba Park, Mandela Bay. He was a great man, but all this naming of Mandela will eventually kill his name. Think before you leap.

  • VuyosWors - 2011-03-08 13:18

    Why not name it Mount Farmer in memory of the thousands of food producers that have been murdered since Mandela's release?

      Kaleidoscope - 2011-03-08 13:29

      Or mount freedom to non whites! While i do think the current ANC government are racists in reverse compared to the Nats. You people that blame Mandela for farm murders are truly pathetic!

      VuyosWors - 2011-03-08 13:35

      @Kaleidoscope Im not blaming him, merely stating the fact that that is when the murders got into full swing. Why do you find stating facts pathetic? By the way, have you ever heard him speak out against it?

      Samuel - 2011-03-08 14:00

      A few hundred not millions - 3000 farmers have been killed. Get your facts straight.

      Vaal Donkie - 2011-03-08 14:20

      Millions nogal. ja shame, bantu education didn't teach him to count properly.

      Kia4 - 2011-03-08 14:28

      Vaal Donkie: Bantu education! You seem to be referring to that with pride...

      The Observer - 2011-03-08 14:32

      changeisGood - hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahah millions, hehehahhahahahahahaaha, you just about named every signle person who died for your strugle. Come now give us the name of the millions. Half the people bread over that period was not registered at birth by your people.

      Vaal Donkie - 2011-03-08 14:44

      No, I'm just saying that there must be a reason he can't count and if we believe the hype around bantu education, it was probably the culprit.

      tom.tom1307 - 2011-03-08 15:49

      this so called white farmer genocide is so mythical it makes santa seem as real as jesus christ. Wors the best advise i give to you is to go and read the genocide act, not the one on wiki, and its many arguments and see what really is defined as a genocide. You people who bleat genocide, give create disrespect to the 303 000 people who have also be murdered in the last 15 years, do these people and their relatives not count as going under genocide or be hail as victims of crime in South Africa because they are not white? Furthermore, a farmer is economic occupation not a race.

      Sean - 2011-03-08 16:20

      tom.tom1307 I suggest you have a look at Genocide Watch's website. They clearly state the numerous stages of Genocide. While I don't dismiss there are a vast amount of other people murdered (which needs to be brought to a halt), if one takes into context the ratios, farmers are targeted more than any other occupation in South Africa. If this is not leading to a genocide, please could you kindly offer an explanation for this case. In the same token you state people who are stating a genocide is occurring are paying disrespect to the others murdered, perhaps this is true. But at the same time, have you ever thought that by deny that the farmers are being targeted you are perhaps guilty of the very same thing? And another thing I notice is that those who deny this problem exist are the one's bringing race into the equation (yourself and Kaleidoscope are prime examples).

      Kaleidoscope - 2011-03-08 19:08

      I am replying to a statment that VuyosWors made. You say i am a racist, but someone said blacks are "K" on this site and got nearly a hundred thumbs up and you want to tell me my comment was so racist!

      tom.tom1307 - 2011-03-08 21:57

      Sean again dont use that website that is just a diluted version or definition of genocide, if u are really wanted to post an argument to please why don't actually go and do some work research papers and charters on genocide avaliable in international law forums, universities and the UN headquaters. The orginial document or manifesto on genocide is a widely debateable subject with many suggesting it is over simplified. And again, for a genocide to happen it has to be against a specific race, ethnic, politcial or religious group, not where in the whole document does it say anything about the killing of a economic group as an act of genocide. Furthermore, if u look at the stats of South African farmers, most of those killed range from Afikaans white beor farmers to English farmers and even coloured and black farmers so one cant argue that this is a killing of a race or ethnic group because South African farmers consist of a mix of races and ethnicities. Furthermnore, if you put the death of South African farmers against the grand total of murders in the last 16 years, these deaths only represent 1,2 percent of the total people murder this 1994. Now if your argument is based on race in terms of yr definition of a South African white farmers, then you have to base the murder total of South Africans farmers against the total number of white south africans in South African. We whites represent 18% of the total South African population at 8 million, but the farmer murders represent

      tom.tom1307 - 2011-03-08 22:06

      only 0.0064 percent of the total population. Thus yr argument is flawed on the murder rate being proportional to the white population. These murder only represent 0.04 percent of the total white population of south africa. Therefore only genocide argument worth investiagtion and recognition in this country, is the mass killing of Bushman/San/Khoi-san by bantu and european settler between 1500 century to 1972

  • maseratifitt - 2011-03-08 13:30

    Streets, Towns, Buildings and things that people build are OK to carry human names, but please let us not pollute our natural beauty with human arrogance and ego.

  • Thorontur - 2011-03-08 13:34

    One of these days we're going to be living in the Republic of Nelson Mandela. Tourists will land At Nelson Mandela International Airport in Mandela City and take the Nelson Mandela Memorial Metro train to Nelsonville... When is this going to stop?

      Great White - 2011-03-08 21:43

      Maybe the United States and Britain will stop erecting statues and naming streets and boulevards after Mandela and concentrate on doing the same for the Lockerbie and 911 heroes...

  • Gorilla - 2011-03-08 13:44

    Why don't we just call the country the "United States of Mandela" and be done with it, Change the main cities to Mandela- 1, 2, and 3 respectively, any main road that has an Afikaans sounding name change the Mandela rd, Blvd, lane or Ave as required. All this name changing is making me vomit.

      Zamaswazi - 2011-03-08 15:33


      gilliansan - 2011-03-08 15:39

      Couldn't agree more....................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Gorilla - 2011-07-15 18:50

      ???Who edited my comment???

  • Kdub - 2011-03-08 13:56

    lol.. usually I would take an article like tis as a joke but these days with all the renaming going on I can't be sure. Mount Mandela... LMFAO

  • *Legz* - 2011-03-08 14:12

    WTFrikkadel. Come on people... Maybe you should read more about Mandela. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. He used arms struggle for making his point. In 1961, Mandela became the leader of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (translated as Spear of the Nation, also abbreviated as MK), which he co-founded. He coordinated a sabotage campaign against military and government targets, and made plans for a possible guerrilla war if sabotage failed to end apartheid. A few decades later, MK did wage a guerrilla war against the regime, especially during the 1980s, in which many civilians were killed. Mandela also raised funds for MK abroad, and arranged for paramilitary training, visiting various African governments. Mandela explains the move to embark on armed struggle as a last resort, when increasing repression and violence from the state convinced him that many years of non-violent protest against apartheid had achieved nothing and could not succeed. Mandela later admitted that the ANC, in its struggle against apartheid, also violated human rights, and has sharply criticised attempts by parts of his party to remove statements supporting this fact from the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.- Let us support terrorists - its the way to go ;) Why dont we just blow up the mountain?

      Great White - 2011-03-08 21:47

      You are spot on with this comment. How on Gods green earth did it get this far?

  • LNP03 - 2011-03-08 14:12

    All I can say is WTF yes, lets rename one of the most famous mountin ranges in the world. Stick to singing and choir boys.

  • The Observer - 2011-03-08 14:33

    John Tungay rather go back to playing with your boys.

      Andy49 - 2011-03-08 17:29

      is he only 'playing' with his boys?

      Great White - 2011-03-08 21:49

      The second half of his surname is a possible issue...

  • Vaal Donkie - 2011-03-08 15:30

    I propse renaming the Western Province to "Jou ma se Province" in support of an expression that is shared by every race and culture that inhabits our awesome province.

  • gilliansan - 2011-03-08 15:38

    Oh come off it!!! Please leave the mountain names as they are - aren't there enough places/streets/bridges/buildings/bays/settlements/airports etc. named after Nelson Mandela????

      matla - 2011-03-08 15:50

      What about Verwoed

      Andy49 - 2011-03-08 17:31

      lets name something after De Klerk, after all he released this Man & shared the Nobel Piece Price with him for his efforts.

  • Mentat - 2011-03-08 15:47

    I am surprised News24 allowed comments in this article. I demand something be named after me as well, maybe one of the prisons, there we can call death row "scheduled suicide" it can even be privately funded. It seems when it comes to Mandela it only takes one to tango. If communists believed in teh Bible we surely would have seen a state funded quest to find the lost book of Mandela as well.

  • Smaal - 2011-03-08 16:09

    You know, with a government that is so openly against whites, openly doesn’t want any white to succeed, pretty much support the killing of whites and is trying it’s best to subjugate the few whites that remain and is too scared to fight back. You can say it is expected of them to change everything and since imagination is not part of their culture. We might as well name another thing after Mandela. Too bad it seems that Mandela was the only “good” thing to come out of the ANC and even that is highly debatable. These days I look at what is going on... I want to stand up and tell the whites “give to them, give it all to them so we can sit on the sidelines and watch them destroy themselves. Let us sit and watch them kill each other. Let’s wait to see how long it takes them to starve”. Just the other day a saw a black man killing another black man over something stupid and I felt nothing. Didn’t even bother me. Didn’t even bother to look shocked or upset about it. Why should I care? Why should we care? Can anyone tell me where do you find the colour white and black in a rainbow?

      emile.marais - 2011-03-08 18:34

      Smaal sounds to me like you have some deep-seated issues...

      Smaal - 2011-03-09 07:39

      What can I say, the last six months has been an eye opener. You call it issues, I call it reality and I’m not happy with what I’ve seen. Ignorance is bliss, be thankfull for that.

  • Jaimo - 2011-03-08 19:06

    Obviously John Tungay is suctioning for a donation - maybe call it Mount Koos deLeRy then his school could be called "The Koos deLaRy Boys Choir" That would get some attention!

  • carldreyer5 - 2011-03-09 12:40

    I am a huge fan of Madiba but out of respect to him I think we should avoid something as cheesy as this. Perhaps an unnamed peak or somewhere in the Eastern Cape that needs the "economic spin-off". As it is the Cathkin area is one of the most developed in the berg.

  • Chloe - 2011-03-09 13:06

    it's the difference between the various peoples. When Hong Kong became independent from Britain they went on as usual, NO name changes, coz they realised it would only cost money and who cares in any case. Money talks and they went on and just kept thriving. When people make individuals into deities, no-one goes forward ever. By the traditions of man, they made null and void the power of God. Some of these traditions make no sense - except perhaps a touch of malice. Malice can only break down, and it does too. Why hate a name when you never even knew the person behind it. In renaming you imply hatred to the former name. Why?

  • Totman - 2011-03-09 13:28

    I would suggest that anything from nature should be change to a natural nature name.( and there will be names for it in one of the langues that will be expectable. If not use English.) Like Misty mountains, Crown mountains, Blue mountains, Pointy peaks, etc. Man made things can have human names. If they want to call something Mandela I would have like "Madiba" more. There are always bad connections to family names and "Madiba" is his unique name.

  • Mariano Cast - 2011-03-09 14:56


  • Stevie - 2011-03-09 15:12

    Political hero-worship is the profligate façade of fools seeking to appear morally superior.

  • truthteller - 2011-03-09 15:15

    Joo Soap,Matla,Andy49,Greatwhite,Stox you are all what we dont need in this conversation

  • JOHNNYBRAVO - 2011-04-24 15:18

    hells bells. already so many places named after him that the gps people are going to get confused! and frankly, he is SO last year!

  • honey_badger - 2011-07-15 17:30

    Im not racist But Did'nt Mandela promise everyone free schooling and housing? He made a lot of promises, why were they not followed trough? Naming the d/berg after him is just crazy he is not from Natal, never was never will be.

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