List of placename renaming in South Africa
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Since 1994, there have been a large number of places in South Africa which have been renamed for political, ethnic, or even economic reasons. These name changes were at first to remove politically motivated, incorrectly spelt or offensive names (such as those named after apartheid leaders) from the South African landscape. However, since 2000 these name changes have targeted places of mostly Afrikaans but also English-speaking origin, with many places now named after anti-apartheid activists. The following article covers the name changes in South Africa by province since the first multi-racial elections in 1994.
It should also be noted, however, that a number of places in South Africa had been renamed before 1994. These name changes were much rarer and occurred over long periods time.
- 1 Eastern Cape
- 2 Free State
- 3 Gauteng
- 4 KwaZulu-Natal
- 5 Limpopo
- 6 Mpumalanga
- 7 North West
- 8 Northern Cape
- 9 Western Cape
- 10 References
As of March 2014, the Eastern Cape has changed the name of 134 places, placing it third nationally after Mpumalanga and the Limpopo provinces. Most name changes have been correcting misspellings in the former homelands of Transkei and Ciskei (see below). There have also been a number of name change proposals in the western half of the province for places of Afrikaans or English origin.
- Bisho → Bhisho (2004; former capital of Ciskei)
- Cala → Kala (2004)
- Engcobo → Ngcobo (2004)
- Idutywa → Dutywa (2004)
- Umtata → Mthatha (2004; former capital of Transkei)
- Ben Schoeman Airport → East London Airport (1994)
- H. F. Verwoerd Airport → Port Elizabeth International Airport (1994)
- K. D. Matanzima Airport → Mthatha Airport (2004)
The Free State has only experienced minor name changes. A number of settlements have been slated for renaming but none have thus far gone ahead. Bloemfontein, the provincial capital, is planned to be renamed Mangaung after the township it borders and the municipality it lies in.
The province recently renamed its only international airport in Bloemfontein after anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer. The airport's name had to be changed twice after the first renaming forgot to add international to the name.
Gauteng, South Africa's most urbanised province, has seen a number of name changes, but mostly for economic or historical reasons, rather than Africanisation. Probably the most controversial name change in South African history has been that of Pretoria, where there have been proposals to change the city's name to Tshwane (already the name of the metro it lies in).
- Verwoerdburg → Centurion (1994)
- Sophiatown → Triomf (1954) → Sophiatown (2006)
- In 2006 the suburb of Triomf had its name restored to Sophiatown. Before 1954 the area (then named Sophiatown) was mostly occupied by blacks but were forcibly moved due to it being near local white suburbs. The area was rezoned as Triomf (Afrikaans for "Triumph") with the former name restored 52 years later.
In early 2012, 27 streets in central Pretoria had their name changed to reflect a "shared history" of the city. The streets renamed were;
- Walker-/Charles Street → Justice Mahomed Street
- Proes Street → Johannes Ramokhoase Street
- Duncan Street → Jan Shoba Street
- Genl. Louis Botha Drive → January Masilela Drive
- Esselen Street → Robert Sobukwe Street
- Vermeulen Street → Madiba Street
- Schubart Street→ Sophie de Bruyn Street
- Potgieter Street → Kgosi Mampuru Street
- Prinsloo Street → Sisulu Street
- Skinner Street → Nana Sita Street
- Jacob Maré Street → Jeff Masemola Street
- Queen Wilhelmina Street → Florence Ribiero Street
- Van der Walt Street → Lillian Ngoy Street
- Andries Street → Thabo Sehume Street
- DF Malan Drive → Eskia Mphahlele Drive
- Hans Strijdom Drive → Solomon Mahlangu Drive
- Mitchell Street → Charlotte Maxeke Street
- Schoeman Street → Francis Baard Street
- Zambezi Drive → Sefako Makgatho Drive
- Hendrik Verwoerd Drive → Johan Heyns Drive
- Beatrix/Mears/Voortrekker Street → Steve Biko Street
- Church Street from Nelson Mandela Drive to the east → Stanza Bopape Street
- Church Street from Nelson Mandela Drive to Church Square → Helen Joseph Street
- Church Street from Church Square to the R511 → WF Nkomo Street
- Church Street from the R511 to the west → Elias Motswaledi Street
- Michael Brink Street → Nico Smith Street
- Leah Mangope Street → Peter Magano Street
- Lucas Mangope Street → Molefe Makinta Street
- Stanger → KwaDukuza (2006)
- KwaDukuza was the historic capital of the Zulu but was burnt to the ground in 1828. In 1873 European settlers founded the town Stanger on the site. The town is still commonly and also sometimes officially referred to as Stanger despite being renamed to KwaDukuza in 2006.
The most northerly province of South Africa, the Limpopo province saw some of the earliest name changes and to date more than any other province. The province was carved out of the former Transvaal and initially named the Northern-Transvaal until the following year when it was known simply as the Northern Province. It kept this name until 2002 when it was renamed after the Limpopo River which forms South Africa's border with Zimbabwe. Settlement name changes especially targeted places of Afrikaans origin, such as Pietersburg (Polokwane), Nylstroom (Modimolle) and Ellisras (Lephalale), while avoiding places with Bantu or English names such as Northam, Alldays, Tzaneen and Thabazimbi. The Limpopo is the most ethnically black province in South Africa (96.7% as of 2011) and is likely to have made the name changes go smoother because of a lack of opposition from minority groups which are usually against name changes.
- Warmbaths (Afrikaans: Warmbad) → Bela-Bela
- Ellisras → Lephalale
- Louis Trichardt → Makhado (2003) → Louis Trichardt (2007)
- The town was renamed Makhado in 2003, but was later in 2007 reverted to the original name of Louis Trichardt.
- Nylstroom → Modimolle
- Duiwelskloof → Modjadjiskloof
- Unlike most name changes, Duiwelskloof kept the Afrikaans suffix "-kloof" (meaning valley) in its new name. The name "Ngoako Ramalepe" was also proposed.
- Dendron → Mogwadi
- Potgietersrus → Mokopane
- Naboomspruit → Mookgophong
- The new name has sometimes been incorrectly spelled "Mookgopong".
- Soekmekaar → Morebeng
- Morebeng has also been spelt "'Morbeng"
- Messina → Musina
- Pietersburg → Polokwane (capital)
- Polokwane was at first sometimes misspelled as "Pholokwane".
- Bochum → Senwabarwana
- Vaalwater → Mabatlane (2006) → Vaalwater (2007)
Mpumalanga, itself renamed in 1995 from the Eastern Transvaal, has seen the entire northern half of the province renamed since 2005. As with the Limpopo province, most of the changes have targeted places of Afrikaans origin, but also some with British links. These have included the capital, Nelspruit (Mbombela) as well as Witbank (eMalahleni) and Lydenburg (Mashishing). Unlike the Limpopo, the name changes in Mpumalanga have largely (as of 2011) been ignored and apart from the city of Witbank, road signs and usage of the new names has been rare. A couple of settlements of Bantu origin have also changed their names because they were misspelled by early settlers such as Malelane which was renamed to Malalane.
- Lydenburg → Mashishing (2006)
- Witbank → eMalahleni (2006)
- Belfast → eMakhazeni (2009)
- Machadodorp → eNtokozweni (2009)
- Nelspruit → Mbombela (2009) (capital)
- Waterval Boven → Emgwenya (2009)
- Piet Retief → emKhondo (2010)
- Hectorspruit → Emjejane (2005)
In May 2013 North West province premier Thandi Modise said the province needed to be renamed and not just be referred to as a "direction on a compass". One of the suggestions has been to rename North West after politician and activist Moses Kotane. There is, however, already a municipality in the province named after him.
- Mafeking → Mafikeng → Mahikeng
- British settlers first spelt the town as Mafeking but was renamed Mafikeng in 1980 upon incorporation into the bantustan Bophuthatswana. In February 2010 the town was again renamed to Mahikeng. Residents still refer to the town as Mafikeng both informally and formally.
The Northern Cape is the only province in South Africa not having undergone any known significant name changes since 1994. The province has an Afrikaans speaking majority and it's unlikely therefore the local population favour any name changes.
Similarly to the Northern Cape as noted above, the Western Cape has experienced only a few minor street name changes in the largest cities, but have escaped major name changes of cities and towns because the majority of the population are not Black, but instead Afrikaans or English-speaking Coloureds. Since 2007 the Western Cape has also the highest white percentage (having overtaken Gauteng) and stood in 2007 at 18.4%. There have, however, been a number of suggested name changes, particularly on the southern coast of the province such as for the towns of George or Mossel Bay.
Four street names have already been changed: Oswald Pirow was changed to Chris Barnard Street, Eastern Boulevard took Nelson Mandela’s name, while the concourse between the Artscape theatre and the Civic Centre was renamed after Albert Luthuli. The pedestrian section of Castle Street is to be renamed after Khoisan leader Krotoa. An additional change – Western Boulevard to Helen Suzman Boulevard – was introduced by special council resolution.
- News24.com / where the hell are we? - accessed on 22/11/15
- http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=59811[dead link]
- Tshwane.gov.za (new street names for central Pretoria) - retrieved 4th February 2016
- Ewisa.co.za, name change occurred in 2000 - Retrieved 12/09/2013
- "All but 2 Limpopo towns renamed". News24.
- "Residents stick to 'old' city names". News24.
- "New geographical name changes in Mpumalanga - Mpumalanga Provincial Government". mpumalanga.gov.za.
- News24 North West name change Retrieved 8/9/2013