Eastern Cape

Photo: A Guy Called John / Flickr

Eastern Cape name-change plans: Shortlist of new names revealed

Is the Eastern Cape set to undergo a radical transformation? Senior government figures have confirmed that a name-change is on the cards for the province.

Eastern Cape

Photo: A Guy Called John / Flickr

Hold on to your hats, South Africans. The nine provinces as we know them could undergo a huge identity change, as the Premier of the Eastern Cape revealed that the issue of renaming the state is back on the table.

First punted 17 years ago, an ANC task team failed to settle on a different name for the EC. The matter has since been buried, but on Heritage Day this year, Oscar Mabuyane revealed that there would be an effort to “resume these talks” after the province’s SOPA in February 2020. The Daily Dispatch have since confirmed that Mabuyane’s spokesperson told them the Premier is committed to a “responsible” name-change process.

Goodbye to the Eastern Cape?

You might want to familiarise yourself with the name Fezeka Bayeni: She is the region’s MEC for sport, recreation, arts and culture. It will be on her head to rally the troops and make any potential renaming process as smooth and amicable as possible. Already, people have expressed their opposition to the proposals:

What could the Eastern Cape change its name to?

So, if the Eastern Cape moniker is no more, here’s what else we could soon be calling the province:

  • Mpuma Koloni / Mpuma Kapa: Was on the table 17 years ago, but reference to “colonies” may rule it out.
  • KwaXhosa: Translates to “Xhosa Land” – A name-change favoured by EC political stalwart, Athol Trollip.
  • KwaNtu: In English, it’s “People’s Province” – a fine choice for such a friendly location. The strong tribal theme could end up eliminating it from the competition.
  • Ekhaleni: Named after the Aloe plant which famously grows in the region.
  • eNciba: Or, “Kei River” – this suggestion has flown low under the radar.

Place name changes in South Africa

There’s even an option on the table to simply translate the name “Eastern Cape” into its Xhosa alternative. If this process does get the go-ahead, it’s likely to be the most moderate of all suggestions. The province is no stranger to renaming its locations, and most recently switched things up in Grahamstown.

The popular student haven changed its name to Makhanda in 2018. The overarching reason for the name change stems from the problematic issue of South Africa’s colonial past; which bares remnants throughout the nation in the form of statues, plaques and town names.

Despite a mass outcry from members of the public on social media, who labelled the name change unnecessary and wasteful, only 332 objections to the name change were received. Should a mass movement want to preserve the Eastern Cape’s name, they will have to be much more vocal.