Goodbye to Queenstown, hello Komani- Five town names are changed

Queenstown will now be known as Komani, and that is official.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has given the go-ahead for five small Eastern Cape towns to change their colonial and sometimes offensive names and be renamed to their original African names.

In a Government Gazette last month, Mthethwa said it was official and all systems go for Eastern Cape towns of Queenstown, Lady Frere, Mount Frere, Elliot and Mount Ayliff, to do away with their names which were said to have colonial connotations.

In the February gazette, Mthethwa said going forward, Queenstown would be known as Komani, Mount Frere would be renamed KwaBhaca, Elliot as Khowa, while Mount Ayliff would be eMaXesibeni.

The small town of Lady Frere will be renamed Cacadu.

As of March 2014, the Eastern Cape province has changed the names of 134 places, placing it third nationally after Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

Other than changing names of places with colonial links, most name changes in the province have been correcting misspellings of places, rivers, roads and hills in the former homelands of Transkei and Ciskei.

In his recent gazette, Mthethwa also revealed that the names of various dams, valleys, cliffs and hills across the province had been officially registered for the first time, endorsing names always used by locals unofficially to refer to such landmarks.

The Dispatch reported last year that other suggestions submitted to the ministry of arts and culture included the spelling of Komgha to be changed to Qumrha and that of Nahoon river and dam to Nxarhuni.

Late last year it was also reported that the Eastern Cape Provincial Geographic Names Committee (ECPGNC) said the process to change names like that of East London, to either Gompo or Monti, King William’s Town to Qonce and Grahamstown to Rhini, would take longer.

This, they said at the time, was after the South African Geographical Names Council raised concerns over the quality of evidence submitted to support such proposed changes.

ECPGNC chairman Samkelo Janda yesterday said once the minister gazettes the changed names, such names become official from that moment.

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