Nathi Mthethwa: Eastern Cape airport name changes part of 'restoring human rights to our people'

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Nathi Mthethwa.
Nathi Mthethwa.
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  • Renaming the East London Airport to King Phalo Airport is part of the process of restoring the human rights to South Africans, says Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
  • Mthethwa was speaking at the launch of the Human Rights Month in the Eastern Cape.
  • Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga has written to Mthethwa, asking him to reverse the new name of Port Elizabeth, Gqeberha. 

Renaming the East London Airport to King Phalo Airport is part of the process of restoring the human rights to "our people".

That is according to Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa speaking at the launch of the Human Rights Month in the Eastern Cape.

Mthethwa was addressing a gathering at Moses Tswede Community in Dimbaza outside Qonce on Friday where he was joined by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola and Arts and Culture MEC Fezeka Nkomonye.    

LISTEN | How to pronounce the Eastern Cape's new names

"The transformation of the heritage landscape is part of the process of restoring the human rights to our people. The renaming of the East London Airport to King Phalo Airport is part of those efforts," Mthethwa said.

King Phalo was a paramount chief of the Xhosa nation. 

Mthethwa added: "The ministry and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture are charged with the responsibility of coordination and observation of national days by the republic. The Human Rights Day being one of those days. Critically related to the assignments stated above, is that issue of nation building and social cohesion."

READ | DA slams govt's Eastern Cape name changes

"The governing party, the African National Congress, has been seized with the matter right from its inception. When we observe such days as Human Rights Day and Human Rights Month we are continuing with efforts of nation building and social cohesion.

"We, the title deed holders of their work, must ensure that we continue in their footsteps, never lose focus on the task at hand."

He used the day to remember freedom fighters Mama Charlotte Maxeke and Dr John Langalibalele "Mafukuzela" Dube. Dube was the founding president of the ANC, while Maxeke was a religious leader and social and political activist.

This year marks 150 years since the birth of the two icons.

"The struggles of these two iconic figures of our country have left us a legacy of 'never allow your circumstances to determine your destiny'. Throughout their lives they have fought for the restoration of human rights to Africans both at home and across the globe. They understood the nexus of race, class and gender in our struggles both at home and elsewhere in the world."

Last month, Mthethwa changed the names of seven Eastern Cape towns and two airports.

Forming part of the changes is Port Elizabeth International Airport, which is now known as Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport, while Port Elizabeth has become Gqeberha.

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