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Port Elizabeth Name Changed To Gqeberha

African Mural Painted On Exposed Rock Face Opposite Bridge Street Brewery Along The Baakens River | Port Elizabeth | Gqeberha | Eastern Cape | South Africa | Australian Cricket Tours

Port Elizabeth Name Changed To Gqeberha

In keeping with many South Africa cities & towns discarding colonial labels in favour of original language names, the most recent 'big name' to change is the 'friendly city' of Port Elizabeth, the capital of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and Eastern Cape Province.

Referred simply as 'P.E.', Port Elizabeth (named after the late-wife of then founding governor of Cape Colony, Sir Rufane Donkin, in 1820) is now conversely one of the hardest names to say, Gqeberha.

How Do You Say, Gqeberha?

South Africa has 11 official languages of which Gqeberha is the Xhosa name for the small Baakens River that flows past our favourite after-play pub, close to St George's Park Cricket Stadium.

Ironically, the Baakens River is still called Baakens River. #GoFigure

The most notable sound of Xhosa is a 'click'; made when pulling your tongue from the roof of your mouth.

To break Gqeberha down phonetically;

The click is the sound of the the first three letters GQE.

Whilst BERHA is simply pronounced 'BEAR-GA'; the GA a back of the throat near growl.

In quick succession Port Elizabeth is now called 'CLICK'-BEAR-GA.

For non-Xhosa speakers, even those that speak South Africa's 10 other languages, making the 'click' and guttural-like GA, and speaking them as one, can be extremely difficult.

Why Was Port Elizabeth Name Changed?

Many South African place names have been officially changed over the years since the fall of apartheid offering greater recognition to black communities.

The call to change Port Elizabeth was made by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa as part of an 'audit of offensive names'.

I appreciate 'colonial' place names reverting to original titles, but there was no town before Port of Elizabeth; founded around Fort Frederick (1799), the oldest British building in southern Africa.

How can 'P.E.' be an offending name, when it is a founding name?

(Will the Donkin Heritage Trail be renamed? If you change the city named after his dead wife, surely you can't keep the name DONKIN either? #JustSaying)

Since our first visit in 1997, we've called Port Elizabeth the much easier 'P.E.'. This is sure to remain in the casual vernacular for a long time as speaking habits do not change overnight.

Easier name to remember?

However, in a twist of progress, one now calls Gqeberha the far easier 'Burgertown'.

Some may say, 'you can't call it that!'.

You can no longer call the city Port Elizabeth either, so who's wrong?

As difficult as it may be, we've fingers crossed that every Australian Cricket Tour to South Africa will have a match at St George's Park Cricket Stadium no matter what you call the city!

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