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Left: William Nicol. Right: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Picture: Supplied
Left: William Nicol. Right: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Picture: Supplied

No surprise that the renaming of William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive has descended into an unseemly mudslinging match, as the ANC and EFF argue about whose idea it was.

The spat is less about who came up with the plan than which of the two parties “owns” Winnie Mandela’s memory. 

This is much less trivial than it seems, as the 2024 election looms with neither party offering anything remotely sensible on how to fix the Lucky Country’s considerable problems.

Along with a distraction from more pressing issues, such as how to create jobs or make local government work (spoiler alert: they are probably connected), the fight also serves to do what Donald Trump’s supporters are so expert at: rattle the other side.

In this case, it’s not the libs who’ve been triggered, but those who would like to believe that William Nicol was a good guy who helped translate the Bible into Zulu.

Naming one of Joburg’s most car-clogged arteries after a struggle hero is rather amusing, considering the daily struggles faced by anyone using the road at rush hour or indeed at any time except the small hours of the night

Nicol was also a Broederbonder with such a firm belief in the separate development policy that he co-authored a book about it called Regverdige Rasse-Apartheid, which strove to justify apartheid on religious grounds. 

That it’s taken 30 years since democracy to rename the road is unfortunate, but there you go. It’s unlikely that he is much missed, let alone remembered.

Meanwhile, those who are sad about it can draw cold comfort from the fact that naming one of Joburg’s most car-clogged arteries after a struggle hero is rather amusing, considering the daily struggles faced by anyone using the road at rush hour or indeed at any time except the small hours of the night.

And when the dust from the 2024 election has settled and still nothing much has changed, the road can be renamed once more, perhaps this time to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

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