PRETORIA. — The battle to rename the capital city of South Africa reaches its waterloo next month when the Supreme Court of Appeal decides either to keep Pretoria as name or change to Tshwane for the city of government.
Pretoria is named after the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius (1798-1853) and Tshwane is derived from early black settlers of the area who lived near Tshwane River.
This has been an ongoing battle, but the end of the matter is near.
City authorities and AfriForum have been bruising each other for years over the proposed name-change.
Most recently, there has been a battle to rename street names in the city with the latter preferring that old Afrikaans names be retained for “heritage reasons”.
The city lost its initial High Court case on the matter and the subsequent appeal.
The High Court ruled that the city had to reinstate the old street names, together with the new ones.
A total of 27 street names in Pretoria’s central business district were changed in early 2012 to reflect a shared heritage.
Social commentators who spoke to Gauteng Guardian are generally of the view Pretoria must adopt Tshwane in place of Pretoria, a colonial name.
Educationist Daniel Nyaude says the renaming of the capital city was “long overdue”.
“It has been always the trend in Africa that cities and indeed national monuments be named after African names and luminaries. It is a sign of liberation from the colonial yoke. Pretoria is no exception,” says Nyaude.
“If you go to Zimbabwe, you will find Salisbury was renamed to Harare, Lorenzo Marcques is now Maputo in Mozambique. I can go on and on. I prefer that Pretoria be named Tshwane to reflect the African heritage,” adds Nyaude.
University of South Africa lecturer Everisto Benyera echoed Nyaude’s sentiments.
“It is long overdue. The past must be done away with and give way to a new dispensation. This confusion emanates from the 1994 compromises, which continue to haunt South Africa’s efforts to forge a post-apartheid political dispensation. In a way South Africa remains stuck in a political transition of sorts,” says Benyera.
He adds: “Names are not mere nouns. They carry a history, a memory and at times very painful memories of being subjugated and dehumanised. At this point we ask, whose history matters, whose memory matters? Who should be remembered and by extension who should be forgotten?” asks Benyera.
“Those in power reserve the right to name and rename. Pretoria was named by those in power that time and those in power today, have the responsibility to name our cities in a manner that reflect the current power dynamics,” he argues.
AfriForum leader Kallie Kriel argues there is a need to retain the name Pretoria for the city while Tshwane will remain as a municipality name.
“The public participation process showed that more than 80 percent of participants were opposed to the proposed change, but the city somehow still wants to go ahead with this process,” Kriel told media. — CAJ News.