Council says 'Grahamstown must go'

The name Grahamstown is a step closer to being renamed after a Makana council meeting resolved that “Grahamstown must go”.

Makana mayor Phumelelo Kate told Grocott’s Mail on Monday that the name change proposal was based on historical reasons.

“The community must know that the name was imposed by colonialists in honour of Graham. The name Grahamstown must go.”

The name has twice been criticised by President Thabo Mbeki, who pointed out in Parliament that British officer Colonel John Graham, after whom the town was named, was a “butcher”.

Kate said the council would soon be visiting the community ward by ward to hear what their views were on the proposed change of the town’s name from Grahamstown to iRhini.

On Thursday during a council meeting the councillors resolved that the name Grahamstown must be changed.

“The indigenous people must now shape their destiny by taking part in a process of deciding a name for their town,” said Kate.

Smilo Grootboom, a member of the Eastern Cape Geographic Names Committee, said the committee was not aware of the municipality’s decision.

“We have not heard about this and we are waiting for the Makana municipality to approach us about their resolution.”

After a council passes a resolution to change a name, the law requires the council to apply to the committee, which will scrutinise the application to see if it meets all legal requirements.

If the committee is satisfied with the application, it will recommend that name to the provincial minister, who then submits it to the South African Geographic Names Committee which advises the minister of Arts and Culture.

If the minister is satisfied, he then gazettes the new name.

According to Grootboom, name-changing was a lengthy process.

He said his committee had not considered “even a quarter of the list of 59 names in the pipeline”. - Sapa

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