Activist behind the name changes in Eastern Cape getting backlash

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Christian Martin (center) said he has been getting phone calls since last week, and that he got four over the weekend alone.
Christian Martin (center) said he has been getting phone calls since last week, and that he got four over the weekend alone.
THEO JEPTHA
  • Christian Martin, one of the three men who successfully campaigned for Port Elizabeth Airport, Port Elizabeth, and Uitenhage names to be changed, is getting angry phone calls from strangers slamming him for the changes.
  • Martin, Khoi and San chief Mervyn Allies, and a KwaMagxaki man Boy Lamani proposed the name changes in 2016.
  • Last week Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa changed gazetted the names of seven Eastern Cape towns and two airports.


Christian Martin, one of the three men who successfully campaigned for Port Elizabeth Airport, Port Elizabeth, and Uitenhage names to be changed, is getting angry phone calls from strangers slamming him for the changes.

Last week Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa changed names of seven Eastern Cape towns and two airports in a Government Gazette.

Port Elizabeth has become Gqeberha, Port Elizabeth International Airport has been renamed Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport, while Uitenhage is now known as Kariega.

LISTEN | How to pronounce Eastern Cape's new names - and why East London won't be joining the party ... yet

The DA said the ANC government has gone too far in renaming the towns and landmarks despite opposing submissions.

Martin, Khoi and San chief Mervyn Allies and a KwaMagxaki man Boy Lamani proposed the name changes in 2016, according to HeraldLive.

Lamani came up with the name Gqeberha saying he was honouring Gqeberha families residing at Walmer Township - formerly known as Gqeberha.

Asked if he should not open a case with the police, Martin said he will not trouble himself with "bad losers".

"It is mainly white guys who call me and express lots of negativity about the new names. They are very crude, complaining is one thing but these people are condemning the names and are so condescending. Most criticise the fact that the airport is renamed after a Khoisan person and that they are not happy with the clicks in Gqeberha."

Martin said he has been getting phone calls since last week, and that he got four over the weekend alone.

READ | Adriaan Basson | The people of Gqeberha deserve more than a new name from the ANC

"There is a white people's version of Dawid Stuurman where he is painted as murderer and I explained to one of the gentlemen who brought that up, that some people considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist but to millions he was a hero."

Martin also shared a WhatsApp message from an individual who was opposed to the new name of the airport.

It read: "Jy het seker gesien dat die PE lughawe nou vernoem is na David Stuurman, berugte rower en moordenaar uit die Oosgrens jare. So het hy, Dirk Trompetter e.a in 1811 0ns oor-oupagrootjie Slabbert en sy broer in die latere Jansenville distrik vermoor, hul vee alles gesteel en hul vrouens en kinders kaalvoet met net hul nagklere aan in die bittere koue in die veld ongejaag."

(You must have seen that the PE airport is now named after David Stuurman, a notorious robber and murderer from the Eastern Frontier years. So he, Dirk Trompetter et al. in 1811 had our great-grandfather Slabbert and his brother in the later Jansenville district killed, their cattle stolen everything and their wives and children barefoot with only their night clothes on in the bitter cold in the field unprotected).

Later was hy die aanstigter van die moord op landdros Stockenstroom in die Suurberg bokant Addo wat gelei het tot die Britse oproep: "To shoot all male Xhosas on sight". Glad nie n held om so te vereer nie.

(Later he was the instigator of the murder of Magistrate Stockenstroom in the Suurberg above Addo which led to the British call: "To shoot all male Xhosas on sight". Not at all a hero to be honored like that.)

According to Martin, Stuurman was a military man who fought colonialists before he was captured and sent to Robben Island.

He was born in 1773 near the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape and died on 22 February 1830 in Sidney, Australia.

This was after he was deported on a convict ship to Brisbane in New South Wales, Australia.

"In my eyes Stuurman is a hero," Martin said.

The full name changes are as follows:

• Port Elizabeth Airport – King Dawid Stuurman

• Port Elizabeth City – Gqeberha

• East London Airport – King Phalo Airport

• King William's Town – Qonce

• Uitenhage – Kariega

• Maclear – Nqanqarhu

• Katkop – Ngqayi

• Mfabantu – Khohlombeni

• Berlin – Ntabozuko

Mthethwa further made changes to 10 existing names and made spelling corrections to names of four places.

Martin is on record telling News24 that the changes are the best news since the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

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