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Name change discussion (March 2006)[edit]

Pietersburg (Polokwane) has been renamed locally , and subsequently nationally. However the validity of name change is being contested in court , and has been a contentious issue for 3 years. The outcome of the court ruling will determine whether or not the town(city) retains the original founding name.

What does it mean exactly to change the name of a settlement in a country with many languages? After all, many, if not most towns and cities have different names in different languages in South Africa. For example South Africa's legislative capital is Cape Town in English, Kaapstad in Afrikaans and SaseKapa in Xhosa.

Most of the city names which have changed in South Africa since 1994 are the same in the various languages, precisely because they haven't had the history or time to develop seperate names. Others which can be translated, are. For example the former Cape province was split in three, and the new names of the three provinces are new in all the languages (eg, Mpuma-Koloni is 'Eastern Cape' in Xhosa - both Eastern Cape and Mpuma-Koloni are new names, since before it was just the Cape and Koloni). Other times common speech still has to catch up with official changes. Pretoria is now officially Tshwane but English and Afrikaans-speakers still call it Pretoria, Zulus still call it Pitoli etc Joziboy 16 March 2006, 16:38 (UTC)

Pretoria is NOT oficially called Tshwane, as has been claimed above. But Pietersburg is Polokwane.Park3r (talk)
Yes, Pretoria is NOT officially Tshwane in non-Bantu languages, but can you please give PROOF where it states 'the ENGLISH name hs been changed to Polokwane?? --Bezuidenhout (talk) 20:03, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Look on Google Maps. Or any map book in ENGLISH that has been published in the last few years. See what Map Studio's English map book range calls Polokwane: [1]. I will dig up the English government gazette where the name change was published by the minister and post a link here. The argument that the name is different in English is bizzare. There is a sign in town, put up the municipality, that says "Welcome to Polokwane, A progressive city" or some such thing in ENGLISH. See the municipality's own website in ENGLISH that calls the place Polokwane [2]. The English media calls the place Polokwane. As much as I think these name changes are absurd, it is disingenuous to claim that the name is anything but Polokwane. Park3r (talk) 14:11, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
See also Government Gazette notice (in English) [ ] renaming the Pietersburg post office to Polokwane.Park3r (talk) 14:24, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

"Name Changes" are directed against Afrikaners[edit]

Funny that almost all cities whose "names are changed" by the ANC are actually towns founded by Afrikaners. One wonders, if this pattern is part of a plot directed against this ethnic group. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Ya, seems pretty clear and the logic is not too obtuse either, considering the history and the demographic why do you seem surprised??? But, as far as wikipedia is concerned the name the government has put on the map is the one that is interesting and a reference to the previous history is encyclopedically in order but no diatribes please...Noserider (talk) 10:02, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Polokwane is the name on maps. The nearby town of Louis Trichardt had its name-change reversed through legal means; but Polokwane is the name used everywhere in print for the former Pietersburg (media, maps, government, road signs), and Wikipedia is the only holdout.Park3r (talk) 17:40, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

I am not from South Africa but I think that if in the lead sentence of the article the town name is Polokwane that name should be used throughout the whole article. I don't understand why the lead sentence says that the town was formerly named Pietersburg and then in the rest of the article the name being used is Pietersburg instead of Polokwane. A decision should be made and if the official and current town name is Polokwane then use that name in the whole article, not just the lead sentence. -- (talk) 17:05, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Answer Questions[edit]

I have studied many South African name changed and even created an article on Afrikaans Wikipedia with ALL the name changed in South Africa (even before 1990), and one of the questions I will answer is that Pietersburg is used throughout the article because, yes Polokwane is official, but I seriously doubt that it's citizens (who are majority white) will use the new name. Another statement is that the demography is only for the local municipality and that the ACTUAL CITY OF POLOKWANE (pietersburg) has a majority white population (which is likely to change when all whites are murdered in the future), but my point is that I suggest we carry on using Pietersburg througout the article because thats the the majority of the city's citizens will call it. Other problems are that white south africans (including myself) are very upset from these name changes, since the guy who it's named after is a national hero, so for all those South Africans out there, how would you like it if Washingotn DC would change to Mokopolokadwinda? My final answer is that yes, most city name changed are directed against Afrikaners, but not all. Butterworth and Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape and Stanger and Ladysmith in Natal. Of course roughly 95% of Name changed in south africa are against afrikaners, which is very negative but not all, and I think this talk page isn't the right place to comment on political issues, send that to the government (not that they will listen).--Bezuidenhout (talk) 19:16, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Furthermore, Pietersburg has become a very ambiguous city, just like Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria etc. there are now many names for different cities, and it's always been like this, only now does the government want to make the 'black' names the official.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 19:19, 22 May 2009 (UTC)


User:Park3r has added a merger notice on 11 May 2009 on both Pietersburg and Polokwane, but have not started a discussion related to that notice.

I believe they should be merged and Pietersburg should redirect to Polokwane for the following reasons

  1. It is the official name at the moment
  2. The content in both articles are almost identical

--NJR_ZA (talk) 21:35, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Polokwane vs. Polokwane Local Municipality[edit]

In order to clean up any possible misunderstanding, here is an overview of the differences between the two.

In short, Polokwane is the old Pietersburg while Polokwane Local Municipality incorporates Polokwane as well as the surrounding apartheid era black townships, informal settlements and farming communities.

Except for the fact that both the city and the local municipality that serve the greater region has for some reason been given the same name, it is no different than all the other local municipality/central town pairs in the country. One example of such a pair where the major settlement has not been renamed is Nelspruit/Mbombela Local Municipality; Mbombela incorporates Nelspruit as well as other smaller settlement, black townships left over from apartheid and informal settlements.

--NJR_ZA (talk) 08:33, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

End to name problem[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was moved. NJR_ZA (talk) 07:22, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

PolokwanePietersburg — Pietersburg is the common English name and should be used as per Wikipedia:NCGN --NJR_ZA (talk) 16:52, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

The government has ruled that the city will be renamed Polokwane, however thet does not mean Wikipedia has to as well. Yes the Local Municipality is called Polokwane, however the city itself is still called Pietersburg. That is the English name no matter what the government declares (just look at Burma as such an example). The English speakers of South Africa, that means definitely the English and most-likely the Indians, use the name Pietersburg.

Using Polokwane for the city of Pietersburg makes just as mush sense as iGoli for Johannesburg or iKapa for Cape Town; definitly use Polokwane in Pedi, eGoli in Zulu, and iKapa in Xhosa, but not in English! And all this evidence for Pietersburg is without going into ANC politics, etc! So I propose that the Municipality be known by the name Polokwane and the city by its name of Pietersburg. ChrisDHDR 15:24, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

I definitley agree, and this is becuase it's true that the VAST MAJORITY of english speaking South Africans, as well as Afrikaans people WILL call it Pietersburg. Just take a look at the Afrikaans wikipedia article af:Pietersburg.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 18:09, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
And just like the Venda use ve:Polokwane since their language is closer to Pedi than Afrikaans, so English uses Pietersburg since it is closer to Afrikaans than Pedi. Also you're not going to force the Zulus to rename zu:KwaXhosa (lit. place of the Xhosas) since the government says it should be Mpuma-Koloni (lit. Eastern Cape): if that's what they call it and always have, so let it be, and don't try to impose something artificial. ChrisDHDR 08:05, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Personally I would prefer to see the official names used. There are already so much confusion generated with all the name changes that it would just simplify the matter by restricting ourselves to the official names.
However, as per Wikipedia:NCGN the correct thing to do is to use the widely accepted English name for the article name and use the same name consistently within the article while listing alternatives (including the official name) in the lead section. Should you feel strongly enough to have this article renamed, follow the instructions at Wikipedia:RM to request a move. I think consensus will probably be to rename it back to Pietersburg, but please follow the process so we can have the consensus documented in order to avoid it being renamed again to Polokwane sometime in the future by someone that was not aware of the discussions. --NJR_ZA (talk) 08:39, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
I have just noticed that a Pietersburg article also exists, but it's contents is mostly related to the Polokwane Local Municipality. I would suggest we clean that up first and merge the Pietersburg content with Polokwane and Polokwane Local Municipality before Polokwane is renamed to Pietersburg. --NJR_ZA (talk) 08:44, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
I strongly agree with everything that has been said here, except that I would prefer the old name, however, I'm not just doing this because I feel 'the past is better' or whatever, but simply because the black ethnic groups are the only ones where the majority call it Polokwane. Foreign English speaking people (like the British), would probabley pronounce it as Polokwayn, and most maps not only still have Pietersburg on it, but some still don't even have 'Polokwane' in brackets yet. Since black english speaking population is rare, I agree with Polokwane, remember, the official name isn't always the main one, Naboomspruit is an excellent example, where the official name has failed to be recognised, even by the black community. And if Zulus call E. Cape KwaXhosa, then we MUST be able to move this. The official name of the Eastern Cape IS the Eastern Cape, while Zulu wikipedia, ignorantly decides to call it KwaXhosa?? Not even their own ethnic group! Furthermore, who knows? Maybe Polokwane will be changed back 'officialy' - just like Louis Trichardt and Vaalwater. And finalley, if Pietersburg is changed back however, then we must change back MANY towns and cities in South Africa, the most obvious ones being Nylstroom, Potgietersrus and Ellisras.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 09:48, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
However, I disagree with a merger, because Polokwane is still the municipality. This will be the same situation as Londonderry. The official name is Londonderry, but the city article is at Derry, while the area around is called Londonderry.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 10:17, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Oh, I did not mean merge all of them. Keep Pietersburg and Polokwane Local Municipality, but make sure that the content currently in the Pietersburg article is merged into the current Polokwane and Polokwane Local Municipality articles before Polokwane is renamed and overwrite the current Pietersburg article. --NJR_ZA (talk) 11:08, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Just a little recap: Pietersburg's content will be merged into Polokwane Local Municipality and Polokwane, before Polokwane is moved to Pietersburg (oh and lets just use Pb, Pk, and PLM). However a quick look at Pb's edit history shows that it was moved to Pk (so a negligible edit), then Pb was recreated as a cut-and-copy move of Pk [3][4](so negligible), before getting a couple of minor edits like wording, coordinates, and a false sentence that was later removed (all negligible). I'm gonna ask an admin about this but I think we could simply just delete Pb and move Pk there considering all of Pb's edits are negligible. ChrisDHDR 15:02, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes that is fine, an admin can just delete Pietersburg and move Polokwane over it to complete the wanted move. I agree that for something potentially controversial like this you should make a request at WP:RM. Camaron · Christopher · talk 15:51, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Oh ok, I see what you mean. Yes, I agree that Pietersburg and Polokwane are twin articles, and one is going to have to become a redirect. But we must keep Polokwane Municipality, simply because this is 'de facto' called that because the only people saying it, will be publishing it or in control of it, therefore they will be calling it that. But I am for the go ahead of a name change :-) --Bezuidenhout (talk) 16:04, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
And for those out there who are asking 'but why do other wikis use Polokwane too?' - thats because they followed English wikipedia.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 16:06, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
So when can we request them move? And why can't we just simply move it?--Bezuidenhout (talk) 16:14, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
You can just move it, but then someone will probably come along at some time and just move Pietersburg back to Polokwane. For something like this that is potentially controversial it is better to go through WP:RM and have the move performed with consensus. --NJR_ZA (talk) 16:42, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
A move can only be to a non-existent page or a redirect with a sole edit in its history, something Pb is not. So an admin has to do a special move, which has to be requested at WP:RM. ChrisDHDR 17:38, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

I am not so sure about this. Pietersburg is how the town is known especially in the Afrikaans community. My suggestion would be that the English Wikipedia uses the original language version of the name (i.e. Polokwane) as English is an international language and local names will probably not be entered into atlases etc. in the future. — Adriaan (TC) 18:57, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Yes, but this is from a perspective of the English South African community, and English isn't a Lingua Franca, so shouldn't be toyed in this way.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 19:45, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
So what are we waiting for now? Should I tag Pietersburg with {{db-move}}? ChrisDHDR 15:57, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I think you can go ahead and do that and then do the move once Pietersburg is deleted.There is clear consensus here. --NJR_ZA (talk) 16:11, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done ChrisDHDR 17:02, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
YesY Moved ChrisDHDR 13:13, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Support as per discussions above --NJR_ZA (talk) 16:41, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Support ChrisDHDR 17:38, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Support --Bezuidenhout (talk) 17:39, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- The discussions above don't really address the point. Polokwane is the official name, and is already more widely known than Pietersburg. All the local (English) media refer to Jacob Zuma's election as happening at Polokwane, not Pietersburg. It's easy to say "only the black ethnic groups" use the new name. In my experience this is false, but Wikipedia is based on reliable sources, not personal opinions. Internationally, Google finds twice as many article for Polokwane as Pietersburg. Locally, it finds three times as many. Where are the sources to say the old name is in more widespread use? Greenman (talk) 08:41, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Factually correct, but in the context one has to look at what Polokwane refers to.
I agree that only the black ethnic groups using the name Polokwane is false, it is widely used within the white population as well, mostly to refer to the greater area that is the local municipality. However, within the Polokwane Local Municipality all racial groups also still use Pietersburg in order to distinguish the city from the larger local municipality. It really was the worst kind stupid to give both the city and the greater municipality around it the same name.
--NJR_ZA (talk) 09:46, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

What I still don't understand is why official is such a golden word?? Derry's official name is Londonderry, but why is it called Derry in this wikipedia?? Burma is officially called Myanmar, but why is it called Burma in so many cases? Why is Szecin (or however you spell it) called Settin in German, when OFFICIALLY the city is called Sz.. in Polish? Official is important, but is powerless against 'what the majority call it'.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 10:42, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Also, in answering to Greenman, the local English media use Polokwane rather than Pb because many are black (and an English speaking newspaper is more succesful in Gauteng than that in N.Sotho), and it might be contraversial to write the 'old' name of town in the media, because many black people might protest against it.

Furthermore, because it's JACOB ZUMA, of course they will say Polokwane, to be pollically correct. This is the ANC stronghold (personally I think they held it here to allow the name to be recognised!). Lastly, what's written down [on signs] the most, isn't always the most used.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 10:46, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

I can bet anyone that the majority of English speaking south africans call it Pietersburg simply because that's what they grew up knowing it to. People still say Bombay and Calcutta all these years on, and I even hear some people say Benares :o, but apart from India (where they like the new names), Polokwane hasn't 'stuck to' the majority of the white community simply because they prefer to use the name they've known growing up. Maybe in the future Polokwane will be used my (by everyone), but currently - I don't think so.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 10:58, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
What might also be a very unpopular solution is a double barrel name - like Polokwane-Pietersburg or something along those lines. There are some places in Switzerland which have these article names, and Musina (Messina) is a double barrel name on French wikipedia! --Bezuidenhout (talk) 11:04, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
It helps to take a step back now and again. Take a look at Wikipedia:Proper_names#Place_names and Wikipedia:Naming conventions. The purpose of the article name is to help people reading the encyclopedia to find it. The name choice is political in that community, but Wikipedia is not about taking sides. Whether Pietersburg redirects to Polokwane, or Polokwane to Pieterburg makes little difference really, and, as the guidelines say, usually a waste of energy. I would still like to see sources justifying a name change, rather than personal anecdotes. Opinions on the reasons the local and international media almost all use Polokwane are not important - what's important is finding those Reliable Sources that claim otherwise. Greenman (talk) 11:13, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
I will look for reference on what is more used (both if Pietersburg is most commonly used and vice versa): --Bezuidenhout (talk) 11:30, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
I see the article has been moved in the midst of the discussion :) For the next time the topic is raised, as it clearly will be, on IOL as of today, there are 9 articles on Pietersburg, and 715 on Polokwane. IOL weather lists Polokwane, not Pietersburg. It may have been more well-known as Pietersburg according to the 2007 entry from the free encyclopedia listed above at the time, but as the new name takes hold, that's clearly changing in spite of the political attempt to maintain the old name. The evidence is pretty convincing that the new name is in much more common usage outside of the town, although some locals may still prefer the old name. Since the article has been moved, it should at least mention that Polokwane is the official name too :) Greenman (talk) 13:59, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Oh definitely, we must mention Polokwane in the article (and not just promptly) --Bezuidenhout (talk) 14:15, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Two more things: 1. The beginning should also say that Polokwane is the name in other S.African languages, such as Venda (see venda wikipedia) and also I strongly support keeping Polokwane municipality as it is. I think anyone that refers to the actual municipality will be using Polokwane.--Bezuidenhout (talk) 14:23, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
My cache wasn't updated so I didn't realise that the debate was being revived, tho there is still a clear majority for Pietersburg so I stand by it staying Pietersburg. Polokwane LM must definitely stay as it is: it is a recent invention and that is its name, unlike Pietersburg that has had its name since 1886. Polokwane is noted in the introduction and infobox as the N. Sotho name, as is standard practice, and other languages use the name that is closest to theirs: ie. the Bantu languages will use Polokwane and the Indo-Europeen languages Pietersburg. Oh and by the way the Catholic bishopric is called Dioecesis Pietersburgensis [5]. ChrisDHDR 16:49, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Not the end..[edit]

What about Polokwane International Airport and the other cities and towns in the Limpopo province that were renamed? One that has especially taken my interrest is Bela-Bela (known also in English as Warmbaths). --Bezuidenhout (talk) 14:19, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

I've moved that: that is without a shadow of a doubt its English name. ChrisDHDR 17:06, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually this was then end of the Pietersburg/Polokwane discussion. To rename the others I would suggest that the same Wikipedia:RM process is followed, discussion is done in each articles talk namespace and the change is only done by consensus. If you don't do it that way, then there is no record and no concensus to the namechange and someone is bound to just rename it back again at a later stage. --NJR_ZA (talk) 07:28, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I've set up the procedures at Talk:Warmbaths - comments welcome.
Oh and I think you have to go to WP:RM only if there is a controversy; ie. you should start a normal discussion with the intent of moving it yourself and only go to RM if there is a sizeable debate. I'll close the debate in a week if there are no problems. ChrisDHDR —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:11, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

Name change discussion (October 2009)[edit]

The above argument is incorrect. The name of Polokwane has been officially changed, and for a number of years. Unlike Pretoria, which has not had it's name changed, all "Pietersburg" road signs now say "Polokwane". The media refers to the place exclusively as Polokwane. There is absolutely no doubt that the place's name is Polokwane. Although many people still often call the place "Pietersburg" informally the usage is shifting. See the case of Stanger, which is now officially renamed KwaDukuza. It is disingenuous to claim, as some do here, that the name is only Polokwane in Sotho. If places could have multiple names in different languages, then why are there legal moves every time the issue of renaming Pretoria comes up? Although I personally think the renaming was silly, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, an needs to reflect reality. Park3r (talk) 11:42, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes. Reflect reality. I hope you HAVE read the discussion below. Exonyms exist everywhere. The Eastern Cape is called 'KwaXhosa' in Zulu, and i've never heard of the name, and I bet their aren't any signs saying KwaXhosa. Yes, signs have changed to Polokwane, so have Naboomspruit to Mookgopong, but like Naboomspruit the new name hasn't caught on as fast. The official name means nothing. Londonderry (the official name) is still placed at Derry, because more local English people call it that. Many cities in South America have official names, but they are rarely used. I also found your move very rude, the discussion below took a long time, effort and was made formal on a move page, while you just regardlessly moved the article. PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS BELOW! (and Polokwane isn't exclussive in the media, go on and take a google search!). Bezuidenhout (talk) 15:14, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
Also, unlike KwaDukuza, Polokwane is a completely new name. Stanger was formerlly called 'KwaD', before being destroyed and rebuilt. People have been calling it KwaD since then. The media uses the name KwaDukuza up to 6 times more than Stanger, South Africa!!! I still think KwaD should be moved back to Stanger. It has become an exonym (just like Tswana speakers call Pretoria Tshwane! The Venda call Nelspruit Napoti, but they don't call it Nelspruit despite that being the OFFICIAL NAME IN ALL LANGUAGES!!! --Bezuidenhout (talk) 15:23, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the official name of the Local Municipality means nothing; be pragmatic. Why can't we be like the DA and call a city by its name, even if it's different depending on the language? ChrisDHDR 16:12, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
The official of the place is Polokwane. Legally in English. That is the OFFICIAL NAME IN ALL LANGUAGES, as "Nelspruit" is "Nelspruit" in all official languages (as you point out). The name "Polokwane" is all over the town and in the media IN ENGLISH. Wishful thinking won't change that. The same people who are opposed to this name change would probably complain about Pretoria changing to Tshwane, even if that municipality used their argument, that it is just another name for the same place.
Louis Trichart got its original name back through legal means. The other Limpopo town articles have the correct titles (see Mokopane and Louis Trichardt). Legally the name of the place is Polokwane. I know many people from Pietersburg, and they were very sensitive about the name change, but reality is painful, and they are now using both names interchangeably. In my opinion, the turning point came at the time of the ANC conference in 2007, when EVERY SINGLE media source used the term Polokwane. TV weather reports, which use names like "Pretoria" and "Bloemfontein", use "Polokwane" An encyclopedia should reflect reality. I will add a neutrality tag, since it appears that political battles that are being fought in Wikipedia. The discussion below clearly shows that the name has changed. If certain people believe that this is unfair to Afrikaners Wikipedia is not the place to fight that battle.Park3r (talk) 17:09, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
Very, very true Park3r, My family who live still live in South Africa call it Pietersburg, but then again, they only live in the Gauteng area. I guess we need some real proof that Polokwane is more common than Pietersburg, then I will believe you. But can I press stress out that although something is 'legally' a name, doesn't mean it stays that name on wikipedia, repeating my example above. Polokwane is growing into an exonym, and Polokwane signs are being vandalised anyway to Pietersburg. It is an extremely painful situation, losing a name for nothing, spending all that money on a name while people die.. but we'll leave that for the political battlefield. I am still slightly for Pietersburg, but you are entitled to your opinion. --Bezuidenhout (talk) 17:24, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
While the dispute has been resolved, and the article name is now Polokwane, it should be noted that media references to "Pietersburg" are non-existent, while for example, in the case of Pretoria, it was fashionable for a short period to refer to it as "Tshwane" in the media, it is now widely called "Pretoria" again in the media. The name "Pietersburg" on the other hand is almost extinct in print (although not in informal verbal communication). Also contrary to what is stated above, in the recent past, there is very little vandalism of "Polokwane" signs, in contrast to the few informal "Tshwane" boards placed by that municipality, which have been all defaced.Park3r (talk) 19:06, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

This is a fascinating issue -- I wonder how other organizations address this murky issue of what to call places after they change their names.

I know the renaming of Pietersburg to Polokwane is still a sensitive subject for some Afrikaner residents of the area, burdened with cultural tensions left over from the apartheid era. Having read and marveled at the one-sided intensity of the debate above, I would like to move the focus away from the fact that one name is "official" -- Wikipedia doesn't care what the local government calls a place; it doesn't even care what the local residents call it; it cares what the whole (English-speaking) world calls it now. Our job as Wikipedians is to reflect (as best we can) the global consensus among reliable sources. So the relevant question is: what are reliable English-speaking sources calling it now... Polokwane or Pietersburg?

You know, Bombay was officially renamed Mumbai in 1995. In that case, BBC News, encyclopedias, and other global media came to accept the rename and gradually started using "Mumbai," so Wikipedia followed suit and named the article Mumbai -- even though Mumbai "is still commonly referred to as Bombay by many of its residents," and even though "Bombay" had been the "English" version of the name. The discussions that led to that decision seem fairly similar to this debate.

I don't know if there's a reliable, neutral source out there stating, "Polokwane [or Pietersburg] is the name most often used for the town." Having searched for a few hours, I haven't found one. In the absence of such a single source, however, Wikipedia:ENGLISH suggests we consult other reliable English-speaking sources such as encyclopedias and news sources. I've done this to the best of my ability, and the predominant usage of "Polokwane" in current encyclopedia and news articles since 2002 suggests that on a global level, Polokwane is now the most "widely accepted name" among English speakers.

Encyclopedia Britannica lists the town as Polokwane: "Polokwane: formerly (1886–2002) Pietersburg ...In 2002 the city’s name was changed to Polokwane (Sotho: “Place of Safety”)."

The Encarta encyclopedia also now lists the town as Polokwane: "Pol·ok·wa·ne capital city of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Former name  Pietersburg"

Encarta also has a listing for Pietersburg, but it simply states: "Former name for  Polokwane"

A thorough inspection of The New York Times archive reveals 12 NYT articles written since 2002 that give the city's name as "Polokwane" (two of them mentioning that it was "formerly Pietersburg"). By contrast, since 2002 there has been only one NYT article (in 2003) that refers to the city as "Pietersburg." Apparently the Times' editors have accepted the name change. Similar results at the BBC news archive.

A search of English-speaking news articles at Google News also confirms the media's embrace of the Polokwane name. A search for "Polokwane" returns 278 articles; exclude the term "municipality" and you are left with 269 articles; further excluding the term "area" brings it to 240 news articles that mention the town of Polokwane. A similar search for "Pietersburg" returns only 13 articles, at least five of which only use the word to explain that it's the old name for Polokwane. The dramatic contrast suggests that the global English-speaking media is now using "Polokwane" almost exclusively.

Also, for whatever it's worth, tourism websites targeting English-speaking audiences also prefer the new name.

It seems like the consensus among reliable sources in the English-speaking media since the official renaming in 2002 has been to go with the new official name and call it "Polokwane (formerly Pietersburg)." Until reliable sources of equal or greater weight are brought forward to the contrary, I am compelled to support the page's current placement at Polokwane. AtticusX (talk) 21:26, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

ona very different note, will the ICAO change FAJS to FAOT?

The ICAO of the city's airport is FAPP?Bezuidenhout (talk) 10:32, 28 October 2009 (UTC)


The current demographics paragraph reads very poorly. We've got demographics from 1901 which aren't relevant except perhaps under History. Then there's the words "probably" and "likely", with no supporting references or links. Part of the problem is that the article is about the city, which has been redefined as a local municipality to include the surrounding townships. This page should probably have its information merged into the municipality page and be deleted.

For now, let's just fix the demographics paragraph.

Facts I've been able to figure out:

In 1991, the size of the city was 54700. (
In 1996, the population of the municipality was 424976, with 23494 or 5.5% white. (
Population of the municipality is just over 500000, with less than 5% white. (

This means that even by 1996, the white population constituted less than 43% of the city's population. Given emigration, desegregation, city growth etc, it's probably realistically between 20%-30% today, but without a reference I wouldn't introduce anything like that otherwise I'll just be replacing someone else's original research with my own.

I'll update the paragraph to just include the verifiable municipality's demographics, but this will only be solved once this article is merged with the main municipality article, it no longer serves any purpose other than to confuse. --HiltonLange (talk) 01:42, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

NO!!, it's a terrible idea to merge information about Polokwane municipality, The City of Tshwane is not the same as the City of Pretoria. Surely 'Answers' is a bad source for statistics. Lastely, you need to be specific when referring to 'the city'. Does this include Seshego? In 1989 there were VERY likely almost no black people in the CITY. I doubt half of a city can become black in two years, even though this is South Africa. But I do agree that it is poorley written. I will edit it to make it more neutral. Bezuidenhout (talk) 14:40, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
The problem is that the Polokwane city that this article refers to doesn't isn't actually defined anymore. The apartheid definition of cities (which actually only included a small fraction of the population living, working and contributing to the economy) simply doesn't serve a purpose anymore. While trying to get an accurate number for these demographics, I started going through the census data for the municipality and selectively finding wards from the old "white suburbs". What point is that? Speaking frankly, the whites-only section of the city was an apartheid construct designed to exclude the majority of the population, and it just seems like we're simply propagating that reality by spending more time maintaining an article about the section of Polokwane that used to be exclusively for whites. It would be akin to trying to maintain a current article on the economy of Prussia, East Germany or the Ciskei. Those entities no longer exist under their old demarcations.
Perhaps this article should be called Pietersburg, but should clearly (like the East Germany article) indicate that Pietersburg was a whites-only demarcation from apartheid, now included in Polokwane.
That's the end of my little discussion. I'll end by saying that wikipedia needs to come from verifiable sources. The only source I can find for current population is From that source, the terms city and municipality are used interchangeably, and they have demographic information there which can be used. --HiltonLange (talk) 17:50, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I just don't see how someone living in Seshego can say 'I live in Polokwane'? Your proposal of having a historical article for Pietersburg I am actually for, and a link to it in Polokwane can be added. But I am still uneasy about your proposal. I don't think Polokwane and Polokwane municpality are interchangable, even thought the website might say so. I would really like it if someone else commented on this disucssion (especially other people living in South Africa). It would have thought before you started commenting that the cituation was on a much smaller scale of New York City and New York State? Bezuidenhout (talk) 19:00, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
My last Question, if you don't mind answering this is: where exactly do you live in South Africa? ie do you live near Polokwane maybe? Bezuidenhout (talk) 19:02, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
My interest in the article was piqued because Polokwane provides an interesting precedent for many other South African cities. This goes beyond simple renaming. The government has recognized that cities were divided into privileged areas provided with excellent government services, and underprivileged satellite areas (townships) to provide labour. The workers in these townships were forced to commute to get to their jobs in the city centre, but were denied city services because they didn't fall within the apartheid boundaries of the city. The new municipalities are inclusive of everyone who is part of the city's economy, and provide services to the entire population of that city. I don't believe that this is anything akin to New York City and New York State - a state is a larger entity which contains many cities. A municipality is a singular entity, not a collection of smaller cities. I think that the intent of defining Polokwane is exactly that - someone who was previously a resident of impoverished Seshego is now a resident of Polokwane City, living in a poorer suburb.
Take a look at Johannesburg, the article discusses how Johannesburg now includes Soweto, which was once considered a separate city.
Again, that's my opinion. All the official sources I can find refer to the entire Polokwane as "Polokwane City". The mayor is mayor of the entire municipality. The words city and municipality are used interchangeably. --HiltonLange (talk) 20:47, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
I've found an interesting source. This is a list of all municipalities in Limpopo. It shows that Polokwane municipal district is a mayoral executive (ie, a Municipality or City). It forms part of the Capricorn District Municipality which disestablishes (replaces) a list of cities, including Polokwane/Pietersburg. In a massive twist of irony, which just goes to show that updating definitions and names is seldom simple, it lists the mayor's address as being in Pietersburg!  :) --HiltonLange (talk) 20:53, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
About what you said, a state includes neighboring cities/towns while this one doesn't? Surely geographically Seshego is separate, regardless of politics? And are you also saying that Polokwane muni. is special from all the other muncipalities? Also could Polokwane muni. maybe be like Greater London and then Polokwane (formerley Pietersburg) be London? Bezuidenhout (talk) 21:05, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

(resetting indent) It's all just definitions and administrative boundaries. Municipality = city, each country has different terms. I think Greater London might have some parallels. A single mayor, a now-defunct City of London which has almost no population (only 8000). The difference is, London is administered through different boroughs. No such legal divisions exist within Polokwane (municipality).

Comparisons with other countries are difficult, none of them have these crazy and inefficient city/township patterns that are left over from apartheid. But to answer your key question, I do believe that it is the intent of these changes to create new cities (municipalities) which include both halves of a previously divided city. So yes, a resident of Seshego is now recognized as a fully fledged first class resident of the brand new City of Polokwane.

Political Opinion - Just for insight into my perspectives. Before you criticise a man, you should walk a mile in his shoes. I think that understanding the perspective and rationale of these changes is helpful to bring them into context. The western and white media always portray name changes as destructive political games. But take a moment to consider the other side. You are a resident of Atteridgeville. Your livelihood is in Pretoria, you have worked for 20 years as a car mechanic, and your job requires you to travel 30km each day into Pretoria. No public transport is provided, your roads aren't paved and you don't have running water in your home. 2 hours of every day for 20 years is taken up with a lengthy and unsafe commute. Even more frustratingly, there are thousands of square kilometers of open land far nearer to your job, but only white people are allowed to build on it. None of them want to live on it, but the white people simply prefer a suitably large buffer between where they live and where you live.

In 1994, a new government vows to put an end to this system. The recognize that instead of only 500,000 whites, the real city constitutes 3 million people. The fact that 2.5 million of them live outside the traditional "city limits" is not their fault - they fought against that system for 40 years. Now they have to manage it. The first thing they do is redefine the city. It includes everyone who works and makes a living there, even though most of them live in satellite settlements needlessly far away. They promise the same basic services and infrastructure to everyone. Now they're sitting with 3 million people in a metropol, or a municipality, or a city. Call it what you will. What do they call this new entity? They could call it "Pretoria", the name that the previous government put on the map, despite the fact that it is smaller (in population) than any of the surrounding cities. Or they could call it "Atteridgeville" or "Soshanguve", but those names are equally inappropriate. They need a new name, one which represents and includes people from all the disparate parts which make up this disfunctional entity. They ask the local population for names that they already use for the entire area. Many call it Tshwane. They proudly decide that their new city will go by that name, and hope for a better future.

And the white population of Pretoria, leading their lives and mostly unaware of any of this, except when their maid tells them that she was late because the taxis were on strike, all cry out as one,

"Rename Pretoria to Tshwane?? Oh why, oh why do you persecute us so!"

End Political Opinion

This is not usually appropriate for the talk page of a wikipedia page, but I write it because I've at one time felt and understood many of the same points being made by the posters to these articles, and I've found that trying to understand both sides is very helpful to discern the intent of the changes, and therefore the facts behind them. --HiltonLange (talk) 23:11, 29 June 2010 (UTC)


According to the article there is only one airport in the city, there is however two airports. This is clearly visible on Google Maps. The airport to the north of the city is the public airport, Polokwane International, whereas the airport to the south is the private airport Polokwane Gateway Airport. Could we rectify this? -- (talk) 11:37, 29 November 2010 (UTC)


Can anyone maybe make some of those weird pronounciation bubble things? Sorry I don't know what they're called, but I can imagine that some people in England would call the city (Polok-Wayne). Maybe also make one for Pietersburg? Bezuidenhout (talk) 12:24, 20 November 2011 (UTC)