South Africans can expect more place name changes in the coming years


The South African city of Grahamstown, currently undergoing its 44th National Arts Festival, will soon be called Makhanda, after a Xhosa warrior. The Arts and Culture department said on Friday that there had been a 20-year call for the name change, which is going ahead because some people are opposed to the painful history the founder of Grahamstown, Colonel John Graham, epitomized.

Graham is a figure who was praised by the British for “breaking the back of the natives”.

“The battles he waged were not only against soldiers. Everyone, including women, children and the elderly would not be spared. Even post-battle, he and his soldiers would employ the ‘scorched earth policy’ against those he had already brought violence and misery against, by burning their fields and killing their cattle; starving them into submission, before killing them”, said Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s statement.

The name Grahamstown is to be replaced by Makhanda, named after the great Xhosa warrior, philosopher, prophet, and medicine man. Makhanda is also known as Nxele and his name can also be spelled Makana. During the Xhosa Wars, he led an attack against the British garrison at Grahamstown in 1819.

You can read more about the controversial decision here.