What’s in a street name?

2010-03-19 00:00

FIVE years ago 18 street names in Pietermaritzburg were changed. The Witness set out to see how institutions and the public have adapted to the new signage.

Melanie Veness, director of Pietermaritzburg Tourism said: “I think that the road name changes in Pietermaritzburg were dealt with very sensitively. No streets that are named after people were changed,” and although this may be the case, some residents have still not made peace with the new names.

“I still haven’t got used to the new names. They are from somebody else’s culture, they didn’t choose a culturally diverse range of names,” said Zane Stewart (28) from Pelham.

Stories in The Witness by Colin Gardner explained who the people were that the streets were being named after, “which helped enormously”, said Veness.

The mayor at the time, Hloni Zondi, was quoted in the May-June edition of Umphithithi saying: “Each street will have one or two lines that describe their origin. This will shed light on how the streets got their names.”

But this plan did not help all residents. Jill Murray (43) from Athlone said she had to look up the people the streets are named after herself. “The people behind the names should have been more widely advertised, as most people don’t even know who they are”.

Issues surrounding pronunciation are also rife, but Veness said it is taken in good humour. “Often people battle to say the new street names (especially foreigners) but attempts to say the names are usually followed by a giggle.”

The street-name changes have also made giving and receiving directions confusing.

Veness said that Pietermaritzburg street maps “still carry both names, because people who have been to the city before still know the old names, and since the face of the city has changed so much, they often feel a little confused — it helps them to orientate themselves. We also find that maps published in foreign publications are often not updated with the new names, so this helps tourists make comparisons.”

Google Maps, which is often used by locals and visitors alike, has only changed 13 streets to their new names. Loop Street, Durban Road, Chapel Street, East Street, Old Greytown Road, New Greytown Road, Richmond Road, Edendale Road, Sweetwaters Road and Murray Road all appear as their outdated names.

Archie Gumede/Newport Drive, Harriette Colenso/Bishopstowe Road and Chief Mhlabunzima/Baynes Drift Road cannot even be found when typed into the search bar on Google Maps.






Longmarket Street is Langalibalele Street

Berg Street is Hoosen Haffejee Street

Commercial Road is Chief Albert Luthuli Road

Loop Street is Jabu Ndlovu Street

Chapel Street is Peter Kerchoff Street

East Street is Masukwana Street

Durban Road is Alan Paton Avenue

Old Greytown Road is Chota Motala Road

New Greytown Road is Bhambatha Road

Richmond Road is Reggie Hadebe Road

Edendale Road is Moses Mabhida Road

Duncan Mckenzie Drive is Peter Brown Drive

Sweetwaters Road is Mbubu Road

Newport Drive is Archie Gumede Drive

Slangspruit Road is Sikhumbuzo Ngwenya Road

Murray Road is Gladys Manzi Road

Bishopstowe Road is Harriette Colenson Road

Baynes Drift Road is Chief Mhlabunzima Road

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