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Name Changes in South Africa

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It has been going on for over 24 years. These changes of streets, towns and airports have a larger impact than any of us truly understand. Nearly 850 names of residential areas have been changed just in the last 14 years. But does anyone even know the real processes and costs that follow when changing these names?

The processes behind this are extremely long. According to Traveller24, the report will be compiled of suggestions. This report will be sent to the National Department of Transport and finally the Department of Arts and Culture for further consideration. From there the process moves to the Provincial Geographical naming committee. Not only is the process time-consuming it is also extremely costly. It is estimated that the name changing of Cape Town International Airport will cost around R20 million.

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As stated by news24, national maps need to be updated and reprinted, Google maps and GPS maps have to record the new information which takes up time and is extremely costly. Other businesses that are located along roads that names are being changed have to update websites and reprint advertising and business cards which in the end costs them more than they should be paying. Businesses that operate globally then have to contact all consumers to notify them. It can be assumed that the worldly status of the landmark should be taken into account. If the land is a considered a world heritage site it will therefore be marked as one. For example if people wanted Robben island to be changed to a more African name then the correct course of action should taken to notify the other countries that the names are changing. This once again will cost not only South Africa but also the other countries like the problems of textbooks in schools having to be reprinted as they would have the wrong information, rising the already high cost of changing the name. Funds that are being used to pay for all of this should actually be used to better the country, like providing better educations and healthcare to those who cannot afford it or create jobs for the unemployed. Solving these problems should be a main priority for South Africa.

The renaming of places, airports, roads, old building and others, in my opinion should not be constantly redone due to the fact that people disagree with the current name. Respectfully I believe there was a place and a time for them to change the names. But people’s perspective has to be taken into account because not all people think the same way, there are a multitude of different opinions. But in my opinion it all boils down to the cost and to how much money is being wasted on changing the names. Changing these names, does not correlate with the quote said by Nelson Mandela as it violates the rights and heritage of certain groups of people.

Heritage is a simple idea. It can be considered to be made up of the practices and traditions that are passed on from parents to children, but it also has to do with what has been passed on from the family, community and place where people have been raised. But because of our diverse country it is very difficult to satisfy and fit into every single heritage The concept of changing names of various roads and locations can be seen to be a violation on the heritage of the colonists that came in the 1800’s, but I believe certain names are entitled to be changed where others are a part of certain peoples heritage and deserves to be preserved. As Nelson Mandela once said, “When our museums and monuments preserve the whole of our diverse heritage…”, this includes everyone that was a part of creating the current Republic of South Africa, even if it was not seen to be humane, it was still a part of the reason we are all here today. In source A Nelson Mandela also states: “With democracy, we have the opportunity to ensure that our institutions reflect history in a way that respects the heritage of all out citizens…” ,changing the names of respected yet misguided leaders from centuries ago does not respect the history and heritage of everyone. I believe, along with people in the comments of the sources given to us, that names of roads and places should not be given names of historical figures as we have a multitude of heritages and with such diverse people we do not all agree on the same things which in the end leads to conflict, violence and segregation. In source F is can be read that the Afrikaans people only have one history after separating themselves and with all that is happening they feel that their heritage is being obliterated, with the quote from Nelson Mandela in mind, I believe that due the lack of strengthening our human rights, mutual respect and democracy these people’s heritages are being violated.

Another aspect to be taken into account is tourism, namely into Cape Town International Airport. It is easier for tourists to identify where they are if the name of the airport is the same as the city they are currently in. If the name was changed it would create confusion not only among tourists but also local residents as many of the sign on roads have not yet been changed for example, on the N1 highway the Maraisburg road sign has yet to be changed to its new name of Albertina Sisulu.

I believe that the changing of the names was both necessary and unnecessary. When Apartheid came to an end in 1994 I believe the name changes were totally understandable as it was a symbol of the ending of the oppression and the beginning of a new united front. But, I do not understand why the government does not name the roads and buildings after plants and animals, it is understandable why they want to keep important people’s names as reminder but it is creating a divide in our country. Possibly it can be suggested that museums should keep and be enriched with the knowledge of our nation.

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