After several public meetings held last year in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro by the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee (ECPGNC), Gqeberha emerged as the city’s proposed name.
The other two choices were I-Bhayi and Nelson Mandela City.
In addition to a new name for the city, the purpose of the public meetings was also to discuss new names for the neighboring towns of Uitenhage and Rosedale, as well as the city’s airport.
But it will be at least another two years before any new names will appear on road signs, says Zukile Jodwana, deputy chairman of the ECPGNC.
According to him, residents still have until November 30 to comment or object to the proposed names.
Following this, a subcommittee of the ECPGNC will work through the objections and comments, after which they will respond to each objection.
The subcommittee will submit their comments for consideration to the ECPGNC, after which they will forward the final recommendation to the provincial government, who will, in turn, submit it to the national committee. The national committee will first investigate whether the legal steps have been followed before submitting the recommendation to the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture.
“The minister will then accept or reject the proposal,” says Jodwana.
This process can take another 6 to 12 months.
Should the Minister accept the proposal for the name changes involved, the next step will begin where institutions and organizations associated with the existing village names will be approached to also possibly change their names to the new names.
Google Maps and roadmap printers will also be notified of the change during this period.
If the process goes smoothly, it will take at least another year.
Meanwhile, Eastern Cape Prime Minister Oscar Mabuyane recently indicated that he is also committed to changing the province’s name.
Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, Mabuyane’s spokesperson, says the reason is because the province’s name does not speak in English or Xhosa to the province’s residents.
“The ‘colony’, for example, used in Xhosa as the name (iMpuma-Koloni or just Koloni), refers to us as a colony, while we are no one’s colony.
“The goal is to be able to connect the province’s name with what we as a province strive for,” says Sicwetsha.
The Prime Minister has already instructed the Eastern Cape MEC for sport, arts and culture to work with the ECPGNC to launch the process.