Hagen Engler
3 minute read
25 Feb 2021
3:48 pm

Uthini Magqebz? The initial shock and slow joy of the new place name

Hagen Engler

The initial grumpiness from some pale reactionaries will eventually dissipate, writes Hagen Engler, as he celebrates the renaming of his home town.

People enjoying themselves at Brighton Beach in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). Picture: Lulama Zenzile

I was surprised, but ultimately thrilled to learn this week that my old home town of Port Elizabeth had been renamed to Gqeberha. This is in keeping with the renaming of place names across our continent ever since the liberation from colonialism. The renaming of places is itself a form of liberation – perhaps in more of a psychological than a material sense. Naming has great power. It comes with a host of cultural values and attitudes. Ideally, place names would be organic; they should spring from their environment, granted by the people who live in the place, with reference...