What’s in a name

Robert Kirby on the issue of renaming comes out as a sublime racist who feels that had it not been for whites no one would have progressed or developed.

Let me remind him that before Europe and Asia became civilised, most of his ilk were nomads and bandits who killed, robbed and maimed until Alexander the Great (a Greek) decided they had to learn to be civil.

On colonial names, I find it irksome that people like him who pontificated against apartheid and all the racist laws are comfortable on the names of places (most of them had names before) that the old regime gave. It was not cheap to give those names and it will never be cheap to rename them.

Whether Kimberley or Oxford appears 20 times in the world does not matter to us here. What matters are names we can attach meanings to. Those are all British names, which people like him are happy with, to tell their grandchildren how strong the white man was and is. People like him are ones who will give his gardener a new name (an English one) because they cannot bear to have a black man called by his own name and hide behind not being able to pronounce it. What most white people do not realise is that when you give somebody a name willy-nilly you are equating him with a dog.

As for Armani suits and cars that people are driving, this is where Kirby shows his real self. I do not know whether people like him were born with clothes on. It took years for a car to be born and developed to a level where it is now. What this man is saying is had it not been for white people Africans will still be walking naked. (How racist). As far as I know Africans had chariots and were wearing different materials since times immemorial, some of them skin. Or maybe this is history that Kirby never learned or he just does not want to hear. Is it surprising that somebody will write to his English students in Britain that an Englishman discovered Victoria Falls as if there were no people in Zambia or Zimbabwe before the white man arrived? If people decide to give Victoria Falls its original name, Kirby will scream: “It is a waste of money.” My question is, waste of money to whom? To an African generation like ours who find such stupid history racist and abhorrent?

This colonial mentality is so ingrained in people like him they do not even realise how racist they are. I just wonder, if we do not rename places where will our African names appear? Or we should not touch or mess with his grandfathers’ names or else. Mudau Vhonani

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Ray Leathern
Guest Author

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Eskom and unions reach wage agreement, workers back at work

The power utility warned that the system would take some time to recover because maintenance work had been postponed because of the unprotected strike

Start of State Security Agency R1-million theft case delayed

Thuso Oesi, a former SSA administrator accused of fraud, did not arrive in court for medical reasons

Why government would fall short of cash if the fuel...

But restructuring the Road Accident Fund levy would reduce pressure on consumers

Gordhan’s Eskom ‘blame game’ underwhelms ANC leaders

Sources at a meeting of the national executive committee said a call was made to shift the power utility to Gwede Mantashe’s ministry of minerals and resources

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…