Tribes in uproar over renaming of towns

2012-05-10 09:02

Different tribes in Limpopo are at each other’s throats over the renaming of the towns Tzaneen and Lebowakgomo.

In Tzaneen, Se-Pedi (Northern Sotho) speaking tribes have claimed that the name Tzaneen comes from Tzaneng while their Xi-Tsonga-speaking counterparts say it originated from Tzanana.

Both tribes claim that they don’t know the meaning of Tzaneen and how the town originally got its name.

In Lebowakgomo, which was the capital of the former Lebowa bantustan and is the current seat of the Limpopo legislature, a war of words has erupted between the Mphahlele and the Ledwaba tribal authorities over the renaming of the town.

The Mphahleles, who submitted a name change application to the Limpopo Geographical Names Council, want the town to be renamed Mmutle, after the late paramount Chief Mmutle Phatudi Mphahlele, whom they claim founded the town.

Committee spokesperson Peter Moruthane said: “We completed a report on the Lebowa name change last year but before we submitted it to the national council we received a complaint from the Ledwaba community, claiming that part of Lebowa belongs to them.

“They say the Mphahleles don’t have a legal right and claim to the land and therefore cannot change Lebowakgomo without consulting with them.

“We went to the Ledwabas and requested their sumbission. Now we have two submissions and we are scrutinising them.”

The council, he said, was likely to make a final decision by the end of June.

Of Tzaneen, he said there was no intention to change the town’s name in the short term.

“What we have done is to commission a report as to the origins of the name Tzaneen. That research, which will be completed in June, will inform our decision as to how we move forward.”

Risimati Maluleke, a Tsonga-speaking resident of Tzaneen, said: “Tzanana does sound like a word which originated from Xi-Tsonga. I really don’t know what it means but it is better than Tzaneen and Tzaneng.”

His Se-Pedi-speaking counterpart Nthabisheng Mokwele said while she would like to have a ­­­Se-Pedi name, the council should come up with a name that will appease both tribes.


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