Port Elizabeth has a new name. Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa officially approved and gazetted the city’s name change to Gqeberha on Tuesday, February 23.
This change is one of many gazetted, and was done to have names that do not harken back to colonial history.
According to the Minister, it is “unacceptable” that the country’s black population is a majority, but is still a cultural minority as colonial symbols dominate the landscape.
With the new name, it is important to learn how to pronounce it properly. It may seem intimidating to non-isiXhosa speakers, but it is relatively easy to say. The first two letters form a click, and the rest is pronounced “bergha”.
Port Elizabeth – now known as Gqeberha – was established in 1820 as a British settlement and named by Sir Rufane Donkin, who was the acting governor of the Cape Colony. He named the down after his deceased wife, lady Elizabeth.
The new name was submitted by Boy Lamani of KwaMagxaki, who according to the South African, says Gqeberha is the isiXhosa name for Walmer Township, one of the first and oldest townships in the area.
Minister Mthetwa has been steadily undertaking the process of renaming South African towns and streets to reflect a more wholesome local history since 2018. The first major name change was Grahamstown being renamed Makhanda.
It has been a slow process, spanning across two years thus far, but it is so lengthy as it allows residents of the towns to submit their own names and have a say in what the final name will be.
The new name changes included Port Elizabeth, the PE International airport, and other towns, such as Berlin, Uitenhage, and King Williams Town.
The following changes have been approved:
Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha
Uitenhage to Kariega
Berlin to Ntabozuko
MacLear Town to Nqanqarhu
King Williams Town to Qonce
Picture: SA Venues