Jozi: Historic street names

2013-02-22 08:05
South Africa is rich in history.

It is a history that causes much pain, but is also a history that we should be proud of. Every building, piece of land and street that we see now are filled with the memories of those who have come before us.

Street names are very significant in this country and have caused quite a few heads to clash but let us try and see past all the conflict and look deeper into the names and the history behind them.

Johannesburg honours those before us through its various street names. In thirty years time, will people remember that they were named to honour activists before us or even what they did for the country?

Anna Smith found it very necessary to keep this history alive. Smith was the chief librarian of Johannesburg in the 60's and 70's wrote a very useful book about the origin of Johannesburg's street and suburb names. Although no longer in print, this book can still be found in your nearest library and is a fascinating read.

With the help of Smith's book, we take a look at the history behind some of the names:

DF Malan Drive - Beyers Naude Drive

Daniel Francois Malan certainly needs no introduction. As one of the godfathers of apartheid, he held the position of prime minister of South Africa from 1948 - 1954.

The road named after him was renamed Beyers Naude Drive after Christiaan Frederick Beyers Naude, a cleric and leading Afrikaner anti-apartheid activist who refused to accept the discriminatory laws practised by the apartheid government.

Image by Also check out Ten things to do in Johannesburg

Barney Simon Street

Barney Simon was a South African writer, playwright and director. In 1976, he co-founded The Market Theatre in Johannesburg and it soon became the first multiracial cultural centre in South Africa.

Marshall Street

Next time you are in Marshall Street, keep in mind that this was named after HB Marshall. He is most known for selling two plots to Cecil John Rhodes between Fox and Commissioner streets in order to erect a "gentlemen's club" now known as the "Rand Club".

Dolly Rathebe Street

Dolly Rathebe was a South African musician and actress who tragically passed away in 2004. After the British-produced movie, "Jim Comes To Jo'burg", she was well on her way to stardom.

She was arrested during a photo shoot for Drum magazine with white photographer Jürgen Schadeberg under the Immorality Act.

Henry Nxumalo Street

Henry Nxumalo, also known as Henry "Mr Drum" Nxumalo was a South African journalist for Drum magazine. Concerned about the terrible conditions prisoners had to face, he got himself arrested in order to write about them. He was killed in 1957 while investigating an abortion racket.

Goch Street in Newtown was changed to Henry Nxumalo Street in 2004 to honour this great man.

Rissik Street

Johannes Rissik was a man who helped survey Randjeslaagte, which became Johannesburg many years ago. He is involved in the fact that Johannesburg is named after not one man, but three men which is really interesting...

It is said that Rissik, who reported his work as surveyor to then President Paul Kruger, suggested that the land be named after himself as well as his fellow commissioner CJ Joubert. They both shared the same middle name - "Johan". Kruger was not sure about this at all until he remembered that his full name was Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger.

Finally, an agreement was reached and that is how Johannesburg was named after more than one person. History doesn't have to be boring and the next time you are in the city of gold, take a look around.

You may just learn something new...

You may also want to chek out these Ten things to do in Johannesburg
Read more on:    johannesburg

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