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BRIEF: Fancy a trip to Gqeberha?

The decolonising project is still underway, albeit slowly. This week we saw a new name given to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. It’s called Gqeberha

Gqeberha is the isiXhosa name for the Baakens River that runs through the windy city, and was the first name used for the area and for the oldest township in Port Elizabeth, which later became known as Walmer, IOL reports. The larger metro is still called Nelson Mandela Bay. 

Now the best part is how to pronounce it: the first three letters, “Gqe” form a click, with the tip of your tongue at the front of your palette, and the rest is pronounced “bear-gha” with a soft “g” – similar to how that letter pronounced in Afrikaans but less pronounced. 

The name didn’t change overnight – it’s actually taken two years. Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa, who announced the name change this week, said it is “unacceptable” that the black population is a majority in SA but remains a cultural minority, as colonial symbols dominate the landscape. Other name changes are on the cards. 

Obviously, many folks are up in arms over the name change because of the difficulty in pronunciation, but c’mon, if you can pronounce Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen, surely you can give Gqeberha a shot! 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 25 February 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.