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

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A shot of the formerly Port Elizabeth, now Gqeberha.
A shot of the formerly Port Elizabeth, now Gqeberha.
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  • East London will not be renamed Ku Gompo because that proposed name has already been rejected by the South African Geographical Names Council.
  • The council advises Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on new geographical names as well as the changing of existing names. 
  • The reason for rejecting the new name is because there is a township in East London which bears a similar name. 

East London will not be renamed Ku Gompo.

That proposed name for the Eastern Cape coastal town was thrown out by the South African Geographical Names Council.

The council advises Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on new geographical names as well as the changing of existing names.  

The reason for rejecting the name was that there is already a place with a similar name - Gompo. It is one of East London's oldest townships.

READ | Port Elizabeth, and two SA airports, have been renamed

This was confirmed by the Eastern Cape's provincial Geographical Names Committee deputy chairperson, Zukile Jodwana, to News24 on Thursday.

Jodwana formed part of the committee that submitted the proposed name to the national council following public hearings in East London.


This comes after the nation woke up to media reports that East London's new name, Ku Gompo, is awaiting Mthethwa's signature.

The Daily Dispatch attributed this to Eastern Cape Arts and Culture MEC Fezeka Nkomonye.

But, on Thursday, Jodwana dismissed this, adding that duplication of names is outlawed and the name Ku Gompo was rejected on the basis that it was a duplication.

The naming of towns and landmarks is in the spotlight after Mthethwa gazetted the approval of new names for seven Eastern Cape towns and two airports.

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 approved changes to 10 existing names and corrections to the spelling of four places.

The EFF welcomed the changing of the new names, describing the move as part of decolonisation and the bigger struggle to transform South Africa into a demographically representative and democratic country.

But the DA promised to demand transparency from Mthethwa and to understand whether opposing submissions were taken into consideration before he gazetted the names.

READ | DA slams govt's Eastern Cape name changes

The DA MP Veronica van Dyk said the ANC government had gone too far.

Jodwana said: "There was a process relating to East London and there was a proposal which, as a committee in the province, made a recommendation to the council, but that name was held back and not sent to the minister because there is still a little bit of research that needs to be done as it pertains to the area which was raised by the council.

"The name formed part of the processes that led to the East London Airport and King William's Town to be renamed. The council still needs to relook into a number of things pertaining to that name and one is that there is a principle that says no duplication, meaning that you can't name two features using the same name - that particular name [Ku Gompo] was red-flagged because there is a suburb known as Gompo in East London."   

Jodwana said the provincial committee had argued for the name, hoping the national council would reconsider its decision.

"Our argument was that those were two different features - one feature is a city, which is a collection of a number of features within that geographical space, and then Gompo is a specific feature, which is a human settlement area."

Jodwana said lot of research needed to be done - and findings of that research will determine if the name can be taken back to the council for consideration.

Informed about the new developments, MEC Nkomonye said: 

"As far as I know, the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee concluded its work, where it held [a] public hearing and the name 'Gompo' was recommended. It was then submitted to the national Geographical Names Council. That work then becomes independent of the province. We will await a formal communication from the national Geographical Names Council if there are any disputes with the name."

About the newly-gazetted names, Jodwana said it would take up to 12 months before the country could see signs bearing the new names.   

Mthethwa's spokesperson, Masechaba Ndlovu Khumalo, failed to respond to News24's questions.

Buffalo City metro mayor Xola Pakati welcomed the name changes for both East London Airport and King William's Town.

"The name changes represent a culmination of a representative process, where residents of the City expressed their opinion on the names. We can only welcome the outcome of that process, which continues to indicate the maturity of our democratic system.

"Naming of places is essential for identity and belonging for the general citizens of the metro, and we are confident that the new names will better affirm our identity as an African City, thus improving our unique positioning, even in the tourism market," he said.  

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