The Department of Arts and Culture has announced that a name change for Grahamstown has been gazetted.
The department said the name change is an effort to transform the country.
The new name proposed for the Eastern Cape town is Makhanda.
The Arts and Culture department said there had a been a call for almost 20 years to change the name of the town, and those who have pushed for the name change have been informed chiefly by what Colonel Graham epitomises, and the painfully bitter memories his name evokes.
“It is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that recommended that the renaming of geographic features be a form of “symbolic reparation” to address an unjust past,” Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a statement.
“These reparations include changing the names of geographical places. Surely, we cannot prove ourselves committed (as government) 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, whose campaigns were executed with, in his own words, ‘A proper degree of terror’? ‘At the time, British authorities praised Graham for ‘breaking the back of the natives’.
“The battles he waged were not only against soldiers. Everyone, including women, children and the elderly would not be spared. Even post-battle, he and his soldiers would employ the “scorched earth policy” against those he had already brought violence and misery against, by burning their fields and killing their cattle; starving them into submission, before killing them.” This is the man that “Grahamstown” has been named after.”
“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.