Home Africa South Africans debate changing name to Azania

South Africans debate changing name to Azania

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Minister Nathi Mthethwa Picture: Jason Boud

Okuhle Hlati

Cape Town – Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, set a cat among the pigeons when he suggested South Africa’s name be changed to Azania. He said the name is just a geographical reference and should be changed just as other apartheid and colonial era names were changed.

He was supported by African People’s Convention’s president, Themba Godi, who said South Africa should have followed the model of Namibia and Zimbabwe, which after gaining liberation changed from colonial names South West Africa and Rhodesia respectively.

When the Cape Argus took to Twitter and the streets, the majority of Capetonians did not support name changing. In a Twitter poll, 62% of respondents tweeted that the name should not be changed, while 25% questioned why it should be changed. The majority of the Cape Argus’s Facebook community were also against it.

N Oliver, 70, from Mitchells Plain said it would be a good idea if street names were changed to show we are living in a different time, then the name can be changed at it is a geographical description of where we are, as well as a colonial name.






Sean O’Poole, 27, from Muizenberg, said he doesn’t support the change as it is expensive. “It can take millions or even billions of rand to change the name, I don’t see the point. The money could be spent on things that are needed. Try to change inequality in the country instead.”

Daniel Mitz, 70, from Bonteheuwel, said the name should be changed to Azania as it is more African.






“I would like to be identified as Azanian as it is personal. Yes, it will take time for people to get used to it but eventually they will. The name suits us and there is great history behind the name. Where did South Africa come from? All nations know where their name comes from.”

Nonzwakazi Pukawi, 32, from Delft, said: “We grew up being called South Africans, even if is a colonial name it doesn’t have to be changed. Yes, we do need some changes but I don’t believe this is one of them. In the townships, people have been on waiting lists for houses for years, why not take that money and build houses or give us better education systems. Even if we give our opinions and the majority votes ‘No’, I doubt they will listen to us.”

Malwande Blayi, 28, from Philippi, said “No”, because it was too late; “it should have been done after liberation”. He doesn’t see the point now, although Azania sounds cool and there is history behind the name.

Sebrena Elliott, 22, from Greenhaven, and her colleague Cheswerey Williams, 28, did not support the change. They believe the country is what it is because of its history. Taking away the name would mean taking away the history. Maps would also have to be changed.


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