Arts and culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa. FILE PHOTO: ANA

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa announced on Friday that government has gazetted the changing of the name of the Eastern Cape town, Grahamstown, to Makhanda, in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

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.

The gazetting of the renaming of Grahamstown to Makhanda has been preceded by 20 years of discussions, from members of the public, historians, academics and politicians. 

The public participation with stakeholders resulted in the proposed names of Rhini, Makana, Makhanda and Nxele.

Mthethwa said 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.

Mthethwa urged all South Africans to all be clear about the meaning of name-change in the national effort to transform the country.

African News Agency (ANA)