The Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown, has officially been renamed to Makhanda, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced last night. File picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Johannesburg - The Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown, has officially been renamed to Makhanda, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced on SABC TV on Tuesday night. 

The minister said, "we followed the letter of the law" in renaming Grahamstown after Makhanda, who was also known as Nxele, a Xhosa warrior, philosopher and prophet. 

"From today it's Makhanda," declared Mthethwa.

There were more than 300 objections to the name change.

Makhanda, who was also known as Nxele, was a Xhosa warrior, philosopher, prophet and military man who fought against colonialism in battles that include one where he led an attack against the British garrison at Grahamstown in 1819.

Grahamstown was named after British army officer, Colonel John Graham, who led the corps sent to clear around 20,000 Xhosa tribesmen from the area.

Mthethwa announced in June that government has gazetted the changing of the name in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

Mthethwa said at the time that it was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that recommended that the renaming of geographic features be a form of "symbolic reparation" to address an unjust past. 

"Surely, we cannot prove ourselves committed to fully achieve these reparations if we retain names such as 'Grahamstown' - named after Colonel John Graham - whose name is captured in history as being the most brutal and most vicious of the British commanders on that frontier," Mthethwa said.

African News Agency/ANA