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AfriForum deeply concerned about planned name changes of four Eastern Cape towns

AfriForum and other stakeholders, including residents, political parties and other institutions, are up in arms after the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Art and Culture recently made a proposal that the names of four towns in this province be changed.

The proposal is that Graaff-Reinet’s name be changed to Robert Sobukwe or Fred Hufkie; Adendorp to Kwa Mseki Bishop Limba; Aberdeen to Camdeboo; and Nieu-Bethesda to Kwa Noheleni.

These proposed changes have already provoked widespread reaction. Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, argues that the proposed renaming of these four historic towns would be an unjustified expenditure of taxpayers’ money and that it is not necessary to do something like this as none of the current names cause any offense.

“These towns hold significant historical value and we intend to monitor the renaming process closely and play an active role in preventing it. These areas are deep-rooted farming communities with a rich heritage and history, which makes the decision to change their names even more insensitive and hurtful to the people who have cherished these towns for generations,” says Kriel.

“Given the financial limitations that small towns like these are already experiencing, the potential consequences for tourism are significant and AfriForum will not hesitate to take legal action if necessary,” concludes Kriel.

AfriForum intends to participate in the public meetings and object to the planned name changes. In addition, the organisation is also considering setting up petitions to try to prevent the name changes. If the names still change, AfriForum considers submitting a review application afterwards if processes were not followed, or if it appears that any irregularities have occurred.

Persons who are dissatisfied with the intended name changes can add their names here to give AfriForum their mandate. However, it is still important to also participate in the public participation process yourself and thus ensure that everyone’s opposition is recorded.

Facts about the names and origins of Graaff-Reinet, Nieu-Bethesda, Aberdeen and Adendorp:

  • Graaff-Reinet, the fourth oldest town in South Africa, was established in 1786 and was named after the then Cape Governor Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff and his wife, Reynet.
  • Nieu-Bethesda, which lies approximately 40 km north of Graaff-Reinet, has had this Biblical name since 1875 and is derived from the bath called Bethesda, which is written about in John 5:2.
  • The town of Aberdeen, named after the Scottish birthplace of Graaff-Reinet’s minister Reverent Andrew Murray, came into being with the founding of the new congregation in 1855.
  • Adendorp, just south of Graaff-Reinet, came into being in 1878 and was named after N.J. Adendorff who owned the farm from 1855.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons, South African Tourism)

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