South African city of Port Elizabeth becomes Gqeberha




  • In World
  • 2021-02-24 15:16:58Z
  • By BBC
The city
The city's pier is a popular tourist attraction  

Many South Africans are learning how to pronounce Gqeberha, the new name for the city of Port Elizabeth.

It is the Xhosa name for the Baakens River, which flows through the city.

Xhosa is one of South Africa's 11 official languages and one of the few in the world that has a "click" sound, which can be difficult for non-Xhosa speakers to master.

One tweeter reflected the views of many: "My Xhosa people. Teach us. How do you pronounce Gqeberha?"

Some have been giving each other a little help. One tweeter broke it down phonetically, saying the "Gqe" was a tongue click, "bear" for "be" and adding a guttural "g" before the ha: "Click bear gha."

Gqeberha is one of a number of name changes to cities, towns and airports in the Eastern Cape province announced by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

The city's airport is now named after David Stuurman, a leader of the Khoi people who fought colonialists in the 19th Century.

He was among the first political prisoners to be jailed on Robben Island off Cape Town - from which he once escaped. He died in Australia where he had been transported to serve a life sentence.

Why choose a 'tongue-twister'?

By BBC's Pumza Fihlani, Johannesburg

The name changes have got people talking - and while some have taken to social media to either ask for help on how to pronounce them, others are simply confused if not even a little irritated about why the names were changed in the first place.

Xhosa's tongue-twister sounds do not come naturally to non-Xhosa speakers - even many black South Africans. So it's likely that many will still use the names they know.

So why the change? Officials believe changing some of the country's many colonial- or apartheid-legacy names will help bring dignity to the black communities living there.

It is part of a call made by the arts and culture minister last year for an audit of offensive names. It is seen as a way of writing black people into history.

Not everyone is happy about the new names and the matter has been dragging on for several years, with residents submitting objections.

A petition to keep the name Port Elizabeth, often shortened to PE, started more than a year ago has more than 32,000 signatures - garnering several thousand on Wednesday following the official change.

Port Elizabeth city buildings
Port Elizabeth city buildings  

Port Elizabeth was founded in 1820 by British settlers and named in memory of the late wife of the Cape Colony's then governor.

Some see the name changes as a waste of money at a time when the economy is struggling.

Michael Cardo, an opposition Democratic Alliance MP, said that the Eastern Cape had the highest unemployment rate in country, according to official statistics.

"But, hey, its towns and airports have a new bunch of names. #Progress," he tweeted.

Others have been posting memes about their pronunciation problems:

Another tweeter pointed out that South Africans had learnt to get their tongues around Afrikaans names like famous rugby player Joost Heystek van der Westhuizen.

"You will learn to say 'Gqeberha'," Rashid Kay said.

White-minority rule ended in South Africa in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela, but it has been slower than most African countries in changing place names that reflect earlier colonial rulers.

Some cities have, like the capital, Pretoria, kept their name but the local government areas under which they come have been renamed.

For example, Pretoria is in Tswane Metropolitan Municipality and the city of Durban it in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.

South Africa's name changes

Cities:

  • Was Port Elizabeth - now Gqeberha

  • Was Uitenhage - now Kariega

Towns:

  • Was Berlin - now Ntabozuko

  • Was MaClear Town - now Nqanqarhu

  • Was King William's Town - now Qonce

Airports:

  • Was Port Elizabeth International Airport - now Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport

  • Was East London Airport - now King Phalo Airport

COMMENTS

More Related News

India
India's Kumbh festival attracts big crowds amid devastating second Covid wave

'I left everything to God', says one devotee who attended the festival amid a devastating second wave.

Extra Crunch roundup: UiPath
Extra Crunch roundup: UiPath's IPO filing, predicting revenue, how to pivot properly, much more

The basic tenets presented in Ron's story will resonate with anyone who's launched a startup. Alex Wilhelm was particularly prolific this morning: For The Exchange, he studied UiPath's 2020 quarterly results to get a clearer picture of its first S-1/A filing. Final note: I asked TechCrunch graphic designer/illustrator Bryce Durbin to create an image to accompany this primer on raising a Series A round.

These are the 6 Republicans who voted against a bipartisan bill on anti-Asian hate crimes
These are the 6 Republicans who voted against a bipartisan bill on anti-Asian hate crimes

In a rare bipartisan effort, the vast majority of senators pushed forward an anti-Asian hate crime bill in a 92-6 vote Wednesday.

What would the internet look like without third-party cookies?
What would the internet look like without third-party cookies?

With recent news about Google committing to disabling third-party cookies in Chrome, it seems like the internet as we know it is about to undergo a seismic shift - at least behind the scenes. What will it look like?

COP26: Delaying key climate meeting preferable to
COP26: Delaying key climate meeting preferable to 'messing it up'

Further postponement of the UK climate summit would be better than a failed event, says an expert.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World