Since 2007, Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown (KGG) has actively for the retention of the name Grahamstown. Since then we have always said that we would accept a name change if the current name was truly offensive to the majority of Grahamstonians as it was claimed to be by the then Mayor, Mr Nompumelelo Kate. We went through three processes on the matter and the outcomes were not in favour of changing the name.
If they had been, as Prof Julia Wells now claims (GM), the name would have changed long ago and it would not have been necessary for the Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the Eastern Cape Provincial Geographic Names Committee (ECPGNC) to take matters into their own hands at the end of 2015-early 2016.
They held a single meeting on the matter attended by fewer than 100 persons on which they based their recommendation that the name should be changed. That led to the publication of the Notice by the Minister of Arts & Culture on 26 June 2018 that Grahamstown’s new name is Makhanda. The Notice was defective because it failed to inform people that they have one month to object to the name change following which the Minister must make a final decision with reasons. Until that happens Grahamstown is still Grahamstown.
The holding of a defective process and the publication of a defective Notice is typical of the manner in which the matter of Grahamstown’s name change has been handled from the beginning. Under Prof Wells’ direction as Chairperson of the Makana Municipality’s Naming Task Team, the process was meant to be of a specific duration after which our local council would make a decision on the matter.
However, because the process did not achieve the desired result it was repeated three times with the same outcome and the matter was dropped. Prof Wells’ claim that there was one process which led to the publication of the Notice by the Minister is typical of the many ways she has spun matters since 2007.
Prof Wells and our local municipality had nothing to do with the last process as conducted by the District Municipality and the ECPGNC and our local council has also made no decision on the matter as required by law.
Prof Wells also states that Grahamstonians must now accept the name change because it is “official”. It is not. Objections to the name change can be sent to the Minister of Arts & Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, at firstname.lastname@example.org and should be copied to email@example.com.
The current number of objections received by KGG is approximately 10 000 with many more sent directly to the Minister.
Jock McConnachie & Sigidla Ndumo, KGG.