‘Graaff-Reinet’s name must remain’

Henry

There is great opposition to the intention to change Graaff-Reinet to the Eastern Cape’s name.

“One of the oldest towns in the country is now in the government’s sights and is at risk of losing its precious historical identity.” According to the Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Associations (FAK), he learned with great disappointment and surprise of the proposal to change Graaff-Reinet’s name.

The Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee held public hearings last week on proposed name changes in the Sarah Baartman district. Among a list of applications discussed during the public hearings is the proposed name change from Graaff-Reinet to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe and Adendorp to Kwa Mseki Bishop Limba.

“This is the latest attempt in a series of absurd attempts by the government to erase Afrikaner history,” said Gerhard Pretorius, communication manager of the FAK.

Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and is named after the then governor, Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff and his wife, Reinet.

Voortrekker heroes such as Piet Retief, the first governor of the Voortrekkers, Gerrit Maritz and Andries Pretorius, commander-in-chief of the Battle of Blood River, all started their journey on the Great Trek at Graaff-Reinet.

“Now the government wants to completely strip this beautiful cultural-historical context from this town, for the sake of inclusiveness. The government makes ill-considered decisions, which will inevitably lead to useless and wasteful spending. Therefore, it is not only on the cultural front that this name change is pointless – it is taxpayers who will have to pay for the millions of rands in costs to carry out this name change,” says Pretorius.

Furthermore, it is also argued that Adendorp should be changed to Kwa Mseki Bishop Limba, Aberdeen to Camdeboo and Nieu-Bethesda to Kwa Noheleni.

“In no way are there problematic issues regarding the history of these towns that justify a name change. Since 2019, there have been an astronomical 103 geographical name changes that have taken place, just in the Eastern Cape.

“The government is engaged in targeted cultural mass erasure of the Afrikaners’ history and heritage,” says Pretorius.

According to the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee, the process is now at the stage of public hearings and advertising of the proposed names for public comment where details of reasons for the proposed standardization of each name will be presented.

“If there are any objections, they are sent to the committee’s objections sub-committee for response. If a consensus on the new name has been reached among all relevant stakeholders, the committee makes recommendations to the South African Geographical Names Council which examines the processes followed to reach the conclusion that such a name should be standardized or accepted before the name in the government Gazette be published for public comment, acceptance or rejection.”