There have been mixed reactions to the announcement of City and airport name changes in the Eastern Cape. This, after Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa gazetted the multiple name changes on Tuesday. Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and King Williams’ town are included in these changes.

The Port Elizabeth and East London’s airport were also not spared in the name change.

Port Elizabeth has been changed to Gqeberha, a river that flows throughout the City. The Port Elizabeth International Airport has been named after Dawid Stuurman, a political activist and Khoi Chief.

King William’s Town will be known as iQonce while East London Airport was named after Xhosa monarch, King Phalo.

Khoi Activist Christian Martin says this is a step towards recognizing the Khoi and San group.

“The Khoi and the San can now officially say they are part of this country called South Africa. The reason being we have been waiting very long to associate us with something. At least in the country now, having the airports named Chief David Stuurman … that is something great.”

Arts and Culture MEC Fezeka Nkomonye says the process started in 2018 and public hearings were held for an input from everyone.

“These names were changed because we wanted to go back to a true identity. We believe that as part of our heritage, what you are called is very important and brings about certainty about your identity. We started that process when we received the names and we went about through the council. The geographical names council consulting all the stakeholders to get views.”

The residents expressed mixed feelings about these name changes.

The towns affected by the name change have the task of changing all the signs.

Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor Tshonono Buyeye says they are aware that these changes will affect them economically.

“And we know it’s going to affect us economically. We still have to sit and discuss the matter, but it takes a lot of money and a lot of effort to sort out. We have not really sat down and looked at how much it’s going to affect us, but it will. It will it affect us. But like I said before, it is a change that we have to accept. It is the law. It is up to us now to make sure that we go out and make the people aware.”

Other towns that have been renamed are Berlin and Maclear which have been changed to Ntabozuko and Nqanqarhu, respectively.

The document below outlines name changes: