CHRIS THURMAN: Winds of name change blowing through the National Arts Festival
If Makhanda and its institutions of arts and education are to survive, then its citizens must adapt
Towards the middle of June each year, my thoughts turn to a small city in the Eastern Cape that used to be called Grahamstown. It’s now Makhanda, named after the man who tried unsuccessfully to unite the amaXhosa against the British. Colonel John Graham, by contrast, was a genocidal bastard and hardly deserved to have a town named after him.
Many isiXhosa-speaking people will continue to refer to the place as iRhini, as they always have done. Nevertheless, the official name change is significant. It sets a precedent, and spurs a question. What to do with the other problematic epithets in this corner of the world? ..