Name Change?

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[Unathi Kondile- Youth Radio Cape Town]

Imagine someone offered you the opportunity to change your name. Would you take it? What negative or positive implications would that have for you? See in South Africa we have this hunger to change names – street and building names. Jan Smuts street to Steve Biko street or the Jan Smuts International Airport to OR Tambo International airport.

South Africans are faced with a situation where all the evil lads that led during the apartheid regime managed to name everything after themselves. I wish I didn’t have to mention apartheid. It seems like every article churned in the republic of South Africa is synonymous with apartheid. But, heck nothing I can do about that – apartheid happened. Can’t deny it happened, although some in this country would like to believe it didn’t as they mumble things like: “Can we just move on and forget about the past!” – easy for them to say when everything is conveniently named and positioned to favour them. I mean everything in this country is bound to touch on race. Heck, even the name of your street corner.

Read more after the jump.

To drive the point of street names and why they are such a sensitive matter in South Africa, I’ll make a basic analogy: say you plan a trip to Germany. Upon arrival you find that the airport is named Adolf Hitler International Airport. As you catch a cab you notice that all the street names are named after this or that Nazi officer. You’d probably get the impression that the Nazi are celebrated and well-commemorated in Germany. Right? Right. But really now, would Germans do that? Celebrate butchers and savages? So why should South Africans endure seeing names such as Hendrik Verwoed road or Botha avenue? Names of hardcore racists on every street corner! And don’t be surprised if you come across a massive statue of one of those oppressors as you muse around the streets of Cape Town or Johannesburg.

So now were currently engaged in changing these names – changing names to the names of more iconic figures and liberators. But at the rate we’re going at I’m sure everyone is convinced we’re suffering from a dearth of creativity. We’re just naming everything after Nelson Mandela. A city like Port Elizabeth in the Eastern province is now called The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Bay. There’s a Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg. There’s a Nelson Mandela museum not too far. There’s a University in the Eastern province named after Nelson Mandela. A number of streets are named after Nelson Mandela… I think you catch my drift.

But it isn’t that easy. See if you changed your name from Mark to Jill. There’d be a problem there. Not just an identity and sexuality crisis, but you’d also have to notify government departments, change your identity documents, driver’s license, work or student details. Admit it. All this could prove costly for you. And that costliness is exactly what many are opposing with name changes. “Why can’t you just let things be and use the money for more constructive things? Like getting your hair done or buying that pair of sneakers?”

And you might rebut this by saying:

“Oh, but my old name, Mark, was just one hell of a heavy burden that I associated with all the childhood teasing/beatings I got. I think Jill will improve my image as well as boost my self-esteem.”

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One Response

  1. […] Name Change Obama-Clintonostosis […]

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