Arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa has confirmed that the proposed changing of Eastern Cape town Grahamstown’s name to Makhanda will indeed go ahead.
Mthethwa made a final determination on the name change on Tuesday, releasing a statement announcing that the final decision to change the town’s name has been made and that all legal obligations for the change have been met.
The proposed change was announced in July when the department said there had been a 20-year call for it to take place. It said the name should be changed due to some people being opposed to the painful history the founder of Grahamstown, Colonel John Graham, epitomised.
“It is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that recommended the renaming of geographic features be a form of ‘symbolic reparation’ to address an unjust past,” Mthethwa said in a statement at the time.
In August, Mthethwa revealed that he received just more than 300 letters objecting to the gazetted name change.
READ MORE: Renaming has only just begun, says Mthethwa
“Most, if not all, have made allegations of ‘lack of consultation’, ‘cost implications’, ‘historical sentiments’, and the claims that the Government Gazette on the 29 June 2018 [where the proposed named change had been published] was defective because it ‘did not state the fact that the public has one month to object or complain to the minister on his 29 June 2018 decision,” Mthethwa said in a statement.
The minister said all the letters would be read, acknowledged and responded to and that each objection will be referred to the South African Geographic Names Council for advice in order to make an informed decision on the matter.
“Makhanda” was a Xhosa warrior, philosopher, prophet, and military man who fought against colonialism in battles, including one where he led an attack against the British garrison at Grahamstown in 1819.
Additional reporting by Makhosandile Zulu