Renaming SA one important landmark at a time

06 November 2018 - 09:36 By Odwa Mjo
The Soweto Theatre to be renamed after Gibson Kente
The Soweto Theatre to be renamed after Gibson Kente
Image: gauteng.net

The topic of renaming has been at the center of many political conversations in South Africa. Countless suggestions have been made by politicians and South African citizens  to rename some of the country's iconic landmarks, airports, towns and buildings.

On November 2, the EFF  confirmed that the metropolitan council sitting voted in favour of the party's proposal to rename the Soweto Theatre after playwright and producer Gibson Mthuthuzeli Kente.

"The renaming of Soweto Theatre is the beginning of a revolution to embrace and recognise black African talent," the party said in a statement.

Many renaming suggestions have been made by politicians, public figures and members of society. 


Winnie Madikizela-Mandela International Airport 

During the funeral service of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, EFF leader Julius Malema made a call to rename Cape Town International Airport after the struggle icon. This resulted in online petitions and received support from many South Africans on social media.

There has been much deliberation on the renaming of the airport. In June, the EFF slammed the ANC's proposal to rename the airport after her late husband Nelson Mandela. 

The Airports Company South Africa opened submissions for name changes for the East London, Kimberly, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town airports. 

The late Winnie Mandela and EFF leader Julius Malema
The late Winnie Mandela and EFF leader Julius Malema
Image: Siyabulela Duda

2. From Grahamstown to Makhanda

The historic Eastern Cape town was renamed to Makhanda this year. Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa announced the renaming of Grahamstown in July. The town was initially named after British frontier war soldier Colonel Graham.

Mthethwa said those who advocated for the name change were "informed by what Colonel Graham epitomises, and the painfully  bitter memories his name evokes"

The town is now named Makhanda, after the Xhosa warrior, philosopher and prophet.

3. Mathanzima or Nelson Mandela?

Economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC in the Eastern Cape, Oscar Mabuyane, made a call to rename the Mthatha Airport after the Transkei born struggle icon Nelson Mandela. Mabuyane made the call during a heritage celebration in Mbizana in September.

Last year, Mandela's grandson and chief of Mvezo, Mandla Mandela, called on the government to rename the airport after former Transkei leader Kaiser Mathanzima.

Image: Supplied

4. King Goodwill Zwelithini calls for University of Zululand to be named after his father 

While being conferred with an honorary doctorate in social work, the Zulu king questioned why the university was not renamed after his father, Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe kaSolomon.

Bhekuzulu, who died 50 years ago, played an integral role in the formation of the university. Zwelithini said it was not enough that only the graduation hall at the university was named after his father.

King Goodwill Zwelithini arrives at the University of Zululand on May 4, 2018 to be conferred with an honorary doctorate.
King Goodwill Zwelithini arrives at the University of Zululand on May 4, 2018 to be conferred with an honorary doctorate.
Image: Jackie Clausen

5. From William Nicol to Winnie Mandela Drive

Following the death of the ANC stalwart, honouring her legacy became the focal point of many renaming proposals. 

The MEC of transport in Gauteng Ismail Vadi, in early October confirmed the City of Johannesburg had made a recommendation to rename William Nicol Drive after Winnie Mandela.

The busy Johannesburg road is named after the dutch reformed minister and educator.

The City of Johannesburg also confirmed in April that the city council chambers in Braamfontein would be named after Winnie Mandela.

Inside the City Council Chambers in Johannesburg
Inside the City Council Chambers in Johannesburg
Image: Penwell Dlamini
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