You're invited to the 'citizens launch' of Port Elizabeth's new name, Gqeberha

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GEE aandag: Chief Jan Bekkies (links) en chief Christian Martin luister aandagtig na die inwoners se griewe. Foto’s: THEO JEPTHA
GEE aandag: Chief Jan Bekkies (links) en chief Christian Martin luister aandagtig na die inwoners se griewe. Foto’s: THEO JEPTHA
  • A weekend-long celebration to launch the new name of Port Elizabeth - Gqeberha - starts at noon.
  • The Khoi and San activist behind the new name changes in the Nelson Mandela Bay, Christian Martin, has pulled out all the stops for the event. 
  • Martin's event coincides with a bid by the Nelson Mandela Bay mayor to have the name and other name changes reversed.

Christian Martin, one of three men who successfully petitioned for the renaming of Port Elizabeth, the town's airport, and Uitenhage, is inviting people of what is now known as Gqeberha to a weekend-long celebratory launch.

The carnival-style event launch will start at noon on Friday in front of the city hall where a 5m X 1.5m banner displaying the name Gqeberha - Port Elizabeth's new name - will fly up in the sky.  

READ | Why PE name change was approved, even though there was a Gqeberha High School in the city

Martin, a Khoi and San activist, said the "citizens launch" would take place throughout the weekend at key spots in Gqeberha.

"We will also be having discussions around the meaning of the name and its origin, so we invited all the people of Gqeberha to come in their numbers, but everything will be done within the Covid-19 regulations."

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

On Friday morning, an upbeat Martin said: "We, as the citizens of Gqeberha, after proper consultation through public hearings, accept the name Gqeberha in the spirit of transformation, nation building, healing the wrongs of the past and social cohesion. The easiest way to explain the transition to those opposed to the name is that the new name is like new dentures and new shoes. It will be very uncomfortable, compared to the old dentures, but only at first. The more the new dentures/shoes are used, they more comfortable they get."

Gqeberha banner which will be displayed during a c

Martin's event coincides with a bid launched by the mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Nqaba Bhanga, to have the name Gqeberha and other new names reversed by Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.   

He wrote a letter to Mthethwa earlier this month, arguing that the new names had no connection to the people of the metro.

In a written response, Mthethwa asked the mayor to be more specific about which names had no relation to the people of the city.

In terms of legislation, objections can be submitted 30 days from the date the names are gazetted.

The DA previously said the ANC government went too far in renaming the towns and landmarks, despite submissions that were made in opposition to the move.

The party promised to write to Mthethwa to ask about the cost implications of the name changes and to check if the process was transparent and fair.

The EFF welcomed the name changes, saying it felt like they were part of decolonisation and the bigger struggle for to transform South Africa into a demographically representative and democratic country.

The ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay region said, having identified a number of gaps in how the name change processes were conducted, it would find a constructive approach of engaging with authorities about the issue.

The provincial geographical names committee described the name changes as a process of restoring lost heritage.

Last month, in a government gazette, Mthethwa changed names of seven Eastern Cape towns and two airports.

The full name changes are:

• Port Elizabeth Airport - King Dawid Stuurman

• Port Elizabeth - 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 in four cases.

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