News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
2 Mar 2021
1:46 pm

Activist behind Eastern Cape name changes receiving backlash

News24 Wire

The activist said he has been getting phone calls since last week, and that he got four over the weekend alone.

Cityscape of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Picture: iStock

Christian Martin, one of the three men who successfully campaigned for Port Elizabeth Airport, Port Elizabeth, and Uitenhage names to be changed, is getting angry phone calls from strangers slamming him for the changes.

Last week Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa changed names of seven Eastern Cape towns and two airports in a Government Gazette.

Port Elizabeth has become Gqeberha, Port Elizabeth International Airport has been renamed Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport, while Uitenhage is now known as Kariega.

ALSO READ: Mayor plans legal challenge to reverse PE name change to Gqeberha

The DA said the ANC government has gone too far in renaming the towns and landmarks despite opposing submissions.

Martin, Khoi and San chief Mervyn Allies and a KwaMagxaki man Boy Lamani proposed the name changes in 2016, according to HeraldLive.

Lamani came up with the name Gqeberha saying he was honouring Gqeberha families residing at Walmer Township – formerly known as Gqeberha.

Asked if he should not open a case with the police, Martin said he will not trouble himself with “bad losers”.

“It is mainly white guys who call me and express lots of negativity about the new names. They are very crude, complaining is one thing but these people are condemning the names and are so condescending.

“Most criticise the fact that the airport is renamed after a Khoisan person and that they are not happy with the clicks in Gqeberha.”

Martin said he has been getting phone calls since last week, and that he got four over the weekend alone.

“There is a white people’s version of Dawid Stuurman where he is painted as murderer and I explained to one of the gentlemen who brought that up, that some people considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist but to millions he was a hero.”

ALSO READ: Gqeberha divides social media as some complain of pronunciation

Martin also shared a WhatsApp message, which was originally in Afrikaans, from an individual who was opposed to the new name of the airport.

“You must have seen that the PE airport is now named after David Stuurman, a notorious robber and murderer from the Eastern Frontier years.

“So he, Dirk Trompetter et al. in 1811 had our great-grandfather Slabbert and his brother in the later Jansenville district killed, their cattle stolen everything and their wives and children barefoot with only their night clothes on in the bitter cold in the field unprotected.

“Later he was the instigator of the murder of Magistrate Stockenstroom in the Suurberg above Addo which led to the British call: ‘To shoot all male Xhosas on sight’. Not at all a hero to be honored like that.”

According to Martin, Stuurman was a military man who fought colonialists before he was captured and sent to Robben Island.

READ MORE: EFF on SA’s new name changes: Remove apartheid statues and ‘Die Stem’ from national anthem

He was born in 1773 near the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape and died on 22 February 1830 in Sidney, Australia.

This was after he was deported on a convict ship to Brisbane in New South Wales, Australia.

“In my eyes Stuurman is a hero,” Martin said.

The full name changes are as follows:

  • Port Elizabeth Airport – King Dawid Stuurman
  • Port Elizabeth City – Gqeberha
  • East London Airport – King Phalo Airport
  • King William’s Town – Qonce
  • Uitenhage – Kariega
  • Maclear – Nqanqarhu
  • Katkop – Ngqayi
  • Mfabantu – Khohlombeni
  • Berlin – Ntabozuko

Mthethwa further made changes to 10 existing names and made spelling corrections to names of four places.

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