What people are saying
Some of the interesting e-mail responses received to date are:
“My wife Irene and I both agree that it is more sensible to keep Grahamstown’s name as it goes with the identity. If we were to change for posterity we should rename it 3318S 2632E and for good measure note the century also to not confuse identification when continental drift will eventually even change that!” – Dr Ferdy C & Irene De Moor c/o Albany Museum, Grahamstown.
“‘Grimstown’ must stay!” – Marion Hendry c/o Pam Golding Properties, Grahamstown.
“I don’t support the arrogant tactics being rolled out here by a few in power….In the new RSA where negotiation is meant to be the order of the day, I see one person (the Mayor P M Kate) driving the process, so hopefully we can stop that and get the Grahamstown public to make that choice…Time for being apathetic is past, it’s time to make a decision with all stakeholders involved. For me personally I would rather see the millions spent on a better cause like upgrading local schools.” – John Gillam.
“As a previous resident of the city, I feel very strongly about this. Personal, nostalgic reasons aside, such a move cannot be considered until every man, woman and child is fed, cared for and being educated or employed. One can’t count the cost of such a name change in rands. It should be counted in missed opportunities to better the lives of the people in the city” – Robyn Cuyler, Somerset East.
“…[T]he whole process of name-changing is superficial, opportunistic and futile. It is part of a political programme to erase a certain dimension of the region’s history which, however emotionally comforting it may be to those now in power, cannot thus be simply done away with… Erasing the name does not do away with the effects of (Col John) Graham’s presence. Few people know much about Graham anyway and care less…[B]uild new things and give those new things new names befitting our new era; let the old names keep their place in our chequered, often grimy, but still vital history.” – Dan Wylie.
“Changing the name Grahamstown will have a monstrous effect on my B&B business and on so many others in this business…I have just returned from business in St Petersburg and it is amazing how the new regime is preserving their history irrespective of how brutal and how many lives were lost during the war.” – Danny Biermann, Lantern Hill Guest House, Grahamstown.
“What relevance does the acts of the Colonel have to the man/women in the street?…[W]hy doesn’t the mayor and his entourage at the municipality get off their high horses and go see for themselveswhat the people of Grahamstown want. Then they can make a more informed decision instead of presuming that they know best.” – Scott Allen, London.
“Even from the far Germany you will get our two votes for keeping the name of Grahamstown!!! Our family lived there from 1990-1993. We have experienced a lovely and warm community…Above all considerations I think it is very important to keep the history going and not to eliminate the signs of the past totally. And the name ‘Graham’ is one of it.” -Dr Hans-Martin & Christiane Chee, Detmold, Germany.
“I would like the new rulers to honour the past and in that way they honour themselves and their achievements in the most dignified way…South Africa has gone a long way to build reconciliation and we must know there is a very long future ahead for our descendants in which to develop a deep cultural identity which takes the best from the past to continue to boldly build a good, just and liberal society. I wish you peace and wisdom in your deliberations.” – Clive van der Riet, Port Elizabeth.
“What about Grahamstown in the world’s eye? People all over the world have heard of ‘Grahamstown’. Should the name change, Grahamstown will fall off the map…Apart from that, the money could be better spent on basic services…the broken water pumps that can’t be fixed, the over-flowing sewage manholes, power cuts etc etc. Why waste good money on petty issues?” – Charl Hoole, Kenton-on-Sea.
“I strongly oppose a name change of our much-loved small town!” – Justin Ford, Leicester St, Grahamstown.
“Please let Grahamstown keep its name! Grahamstown is synonymous with excellence – excellent schools, a brilliant university and world-class festivals. Keep Grahamstown on the world map.” – Nicci de Bromhead, Jafza.
“Please listen to what people want. It will also save money and there are many who need houses.” – Robert & Marion Rubidge, Graaff-Reinet.
“Mr Kate, I think it is unnecessary to change the name of Grahamstown. The millions of rands spent to change the name could build RDP houses and feed the poor. There is a school that will be closed and this school is for street kids and you are thinking of changing the name Grahamstown.” – S Sotashe, VG Pupil.
“I am a Canadian who spent the best four years of my life in Grahamstown….I very much wish for this beautiful and amazing town to keep its name.” – Mark Oliver, Canada.
“I really don’t see the need for this change. Why can we not just leave the names as they are to remind us of the past that we do not make the same mistakes again?” – Tammy McCormick.
“I think it’s preposterous that so much money can be spent on changing a name. Ridiculous. Much more urgent matters need attending to…. The name Grahamstown is its history. Hardly any one even knows who Graham was.” Philippa Jayne Francis, Rhodes University.
“Keep the name. It is part of our heritage.” Jenny Smith.
“Please put my name down for retaining the name. Not that anyone likes Colonel Graham but for other reasons.” – Dr Christopher Mann, Rhodes University.
“I believe that changing the name Grahamstown is a fruitless exercise that will do little benefit to anyone…Food and shelter come before self-actualisation on the highly regarded Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I urge the mayor and his supporters to reconsider and be quietly content with making a real difference rather than a well-publicised one.” Blake Cunningham.
“The name-change issue is doing serious harm to race relations and does not promote reconciliation and nation building….Public reaction over more than three years now has shown that there is no groundswell of anger at the name and that the majority of residents have no strong feelings against keeping the name…..Far from strengthening the ‘Rainbow Nation” the issue is contributing to a new, race-driven split in our country.” Roux Van Der Merwe, Port Elizabeth.
“President Mandela was gracious and astute enough to recognize and reward excellence when he supported the Mandela-Rhodes Trust in spite of possible negative connotations of the name. Mayor Kate would do well to weigh the admittedly negative connotations left by Graham more than 180 years ago with the very positive profile and connotations that have been established since. To throw away more than a hundred years of positive contribution and excellence because of a negative issue 180 years old is not an act of leadership. Mayor Kate will go down in history as the one who got stuck looking backwards, rather than leading us forward.” – Peter Wentworth.
“Spend the money on infrastructure.” – Richard Burmeister, Cape Town.
“All my life I have heard Grahamstown being referred to as Rhini and never objected. Let’s keep it exactly the way it is now – known internationally as GRAHAMSTOWN but Rhini for the locals.” – Lyn & Kevin Berriman, Grahamstown.
“[R]egardless of how horrible the history of our town may be, we cannot deny that the history is there. Simply changing the name won’t take away the hurt and the bloodshed that this town was built on. If anything keeping it as Grahamstown will serve as a constant reminder of the battles that were fought in this area. By remembering where we come from, we can move forward in a more effective way….By trying to erase the past, we are in essence keeping ourselves in denial.” – Bridget Berlyn, Grahamstown.
“Grahamstown has been the educational and spiritual roots of thousands of people since it’s development and they will always call it Grahamstown regardless of what whoever wishes to rename it… Is it not time that all politicians started focusing on the way forward and on ways to genuinely improve the lot of the very people they say they are doing this for instead of dwelling on past petty issues?” – Debbie Rowles.
“The Mayor can use the money to either build more houses for the homeless, upgrade the roads in the location, get rid of the bucket system, upgrade Settlers Hospital, buy equipment for the schools or computers.” – Charlene Edith Jasson, Grahamstown.
“Use your power, Mr Mayor, to help us, rather than choosing to do what you think makes you look like a hero but doesn’t help anyone in real terms.” – M Halse
“[T]he people who are starving and living in squalor would much rather survive than have the town’s name changed.” – Tallulah Habib.
“Whilst bad things happened so did good – the beautiful period buildings that make Grahamstown unique, for instance. Renaming will not change the past but could change the future since the brand ‘Grahamstown’ will be gone.” – Marie Nelson, Grahamstown.
“[T]o change Grahamstown’s name is a criminal waste of money when we have real problems to deal with like unemployment and crime. Does the Municipality not see the starving children on our streets?” – Alexandra Wernberg.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Everyone knows where Grahamstown is and what Grahamstown has to offer, so why the hell change the name?” – Lee-Ann Rielly.
“Changing the names of places does not erase history, history will always stay the same. We should be looking to the future and building on what we have not spending money on trying to change what is unchangeable.” Tana Scott.
“If the whole community of Grahamstown had fancy houses with big yards and all of this town’s community problems were solved, only then do I think that the name can be changed… Allow this country to learn from its mistakes and move on to brighter future and stop dwelling in the past. It can never be redone or relived.” – Saronda Fillis.
“[T]here needs to be a balance between old and new history. Old history should be kept to show us how far we have come.” -Tim Rudman, London.
“Grahamstown has for many years shown the world just how caring a community we all are. Various institutions and organisations have helped educate, feed and in many other ways the disadvantaged peoples of our City….How then can the name Grahamstown be thrown aside as unimportant and unworthy?” – Rosemary Alice Croeser, Grahamstown.
“Use that money on the hospitals not sign boards. Please keep the name.” – Dave Pittaway.
“I have read the position taken by the KGG Campaign and support the retention of the name Grahamstown. I have visited the town a number of times over many years for cultural and academic reasons and the name of the city is strongly identified with its positive cultural values.” – Prof James M Phelps.
“Pietermaritzburg which is similar in a number of ways to G’town has decided to retain its name. Like G’town it has a new name for its municipality. Singapore decided to retain the names of streets and so on from its colonial period as a reminder of where the new country came from.” Chris Mann, Grahamstown.
“Please keep Grahamstown Grahamstown. This is my place of birth and I went to school there too.” – Barbara Howell (nee Hoole).
“Spend the money sorting out all the social problems instead of wasting it on personal political agendas.” – Donald Smith.
“It is difficult to understand how anyone who lived in Grahamstown’s townships under the misrule of the ‘Rini Council’ should want to commemorate that unlamented name….Many cogent reasons have been advanced for retaining the name Grahamstown.” Bob & Maggy Clarke, Grahamstown.
“Please leave the name Grahamstown and do something about all the roads that have not been tarred yet. We bought these expensive houses in Trollope St Ext and four years later we are still waiting for the road to be tarred.” – Rochelle Sias.
“Please don’t trespass on our past hard-earned heritage. Just build additional heritage that will also be pleasing and acceptable to all…. Our children and grandchildren will then all be able to better appreciate all the old and the new creations in this regard.” – Althea G Coupe.
“Grahamstown is an internationally recognised name with many people travelling here for the festival. Name changes simply lead to confusion.” – James Shone.
“South Africa is standing increasingly on the world stage and in the world context the name Grahamstown and all that it has come to stand for has a weight and content which will be lost in a name change to the detriment of the city and all its people.” – Mike Ferrar, Middelburg.
“So what’s behind this motivation to change the name? A belated form of revenge against Colonel John Graham?…Changing Grahamstown’s name is not going to undo battles warred 180 years ago. That’s history. Quite apart from that Grahamstown is Grahamstown. Does a canny businessman suddenly change the name of its top selling product in order to cleanse its record of a scandal in its infancy? Of course not! All the good publicity gained since would be undone, lost, forever buried under a name of no reputation.” Tessa Schlesinger, San Diego, California
“I lived in Grahamstown for 11 years and found it be one of the most awe-inspiring places to live in. Grahamstown has come a long way. We are not living in the past any more. Acceptance allows us all to move forward.” – C de Abreu, Klerksdorp.
“To build homes for those that are homeless and give an education to those that have none would be more priceless than any name change could ever be.” – Genean Mardon, Grahamstown.
“Grahamstown is an amazing place and to change the name now, after so many years of history, would seem ridiculous. Keep it. Come on!” David Moseley, Cape Town.
“You can’t change G-town’s name. It’s a place of legend and must not have its name changed! Please keep Grahamstown.” – James Naughton, London.
“The cost of changing the name could be spent where it is needed more, such as eradicating the bucket-system in Grahamstown East or giving the children some after-school facilities.” Terri Procter, Grahamstown.
“History is not written by the government of the day- this name changing silliness is costly and no different from a dog peeing on his patch to establish his authority.” – Anthony Gadd, Cape Town.
“I strongly believe that Grahamstown must keep its name due to the historical value of the name, post-settlement…By changing the name we are losing the legacy that this community has built over time. I certainly don’t envisage Colonel John Graham when I hear the name Grahamstown but rather see the achievements that this town has had since 1812.” Douglas Eastment, Rhodes University, Grahamstown.
“I was a first-time visitor to Grahamstown this year for the Festival and received nothing but kindness, intellectual stimulation and excitement in your city. And I was particularly impressed by the way that history of the contacts between the peoples was preserved and presented. Changing historical names for passing political enthusiasms is nuts. For example, I’m no monarchist but I’d oppose changing the name of the state of Victoria. Nor would I want the city of Brisbane, which is named after a colonial secretary, to be changed. Nor its satellite city of Logan, named after a right military bastard of that period who was hated by convicts and Aboriginals alike (one of these groups speared him eventually, somewhere near a present Logan City shopping centre no doubt. I hope your campaign is successful. It may seem a distraction but something important – historical integrity – is at stake.” – Veronica Kelly, Brisbane, Australia.
“Forget the past. Move forward. Use the money to improve systems in Grahamstown.” Ros Parker, Grahamstown.
“My grandfather was the late Professor J L B Smith, who identified the coelocanth. His late wife opened the J L B Smith Institute of Icthyology. Recently its name was changed to the SAIB or something. It stripped away what was known to celebrate his life and dedication to icthyology away from him and his living family. My father William Smith studied at Rhodes University. Grahamstown is very important internationally as it is the home of a great university and people. Don’t allow another name change to let go of so many great historical achievements this small city has achieved.” – Jessica Smith, Knysna.
“Changing the name does not change history….The only way South Africa truly stands a chance is if we all move on from the past – TOGETHER!” Christine Phillips, Grahamstown.
“[Grahamstown] has a rich cultural heritage that would be totally undermined by changing its name and in a country where cultural heritages of ALL groups is defended and held sacred, this would be a most hypocritical and undemocratic change to make…. I encourage the mayor to stop focusing on small, unnecessary change and address the bigger ones affecting the lives of the people in Grahamstown and the surrounding areas.” – Tanya Surtees, Cape Town.
“Locally and abroad, Grahamstown is known as South Africa’s centre of academic excellence. Most people I come across in Nigeria know it for Rhodes University and the Arts Festival. None has heard of Colonel Graham. Changing its name will effectively wipe it off the map for many.” – Graeme Brackenbridge, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
“The campaign to keep the name of this wonderful city is based on common sense since Grahamstown is synonymous with excellence, heritage, human dignity and all that is good and beautiful about this wonderful country. Sadly, the motivation behind the name change is exactly the opposite and smacks of the diviseness of the Apartheid system….Mr Kate, keep the name – it is a national asset!!!” Lance Shortt.
“Keep it Grahamstown. The stupidity in expending resources to change a name instead of using the money to improve the welfare of the people is astounding. Changing the name will not change the past, but better-spent money may change the future.” – Wayne Birch.
“Grahamstown was established as an outpost of the Empire for obvious reasons at the time. ‘Good and bad’ occurs in every society and this ought not to be reason for a name change.” Mike Behrens, Grahamstown.
“It is unnecessary to change the name. We are all proud of Grahamstown. We don’t consider where the name came from. It has a marvellous reputation. Costs of rebranding are astonomical, That money should be put into developing the poor in the area.” Carol-Ann Stiekema, Port Alfred.
“Name changing costs Councils huge amounts of money. The money could be far better spent providing houses for people and upgrading services including sports fields and libraries. The money could also be used to promote awareness of littering and recyclying and also by employing people to keep your town free of litter.” – Meg Cowper-Lewis, Suidpunt Environmental Alliance, Cape Agulhas.
“As a person who grew up, was educated and still call Grahamstown home, I find it mind-boggling that local authorities in SA give priority to issues such as name changes when confronted with HIV and Aids, Crime and many other social problems.” – Don Ryan, Perth, Australia.
“I do believe that Grahamstown has lifted itself above its past and is a symbol to that achievement. So yes, the name should stay.” Thomas Marriott-Dodington, Mount Ceder.
“Mr Mayor, tourism depends on branding. Our brand name is Grahamstown. It is good business practice to build on a well known brand. Good business practice brings income to Grahamstown. Income generates business for our under-privileged and so on…Please build on what we have and be remembered as a builder not a destroyer.” – The owners and staff, Courtlands Guest House, Grahamstown.
“The money should be spent on making a dysfunctional municipality functional and effective again.” – Shaun Fitzhenry, Port Elizabeth.
“The name Grahamstown is synonymous with fine learing institutions that are globally acknowledged….Changing a town’s name denies any previous history and learnings.” Mymie Vos, Johannesburg.
“Spend the money on the people of Grahamstown East who need housing, clean water, electricity and water-borne sewerage.” – Sue Sulter, Grahamstown.
“Grahamstown’s name has long outlived its origins and, anyway, if we expunge history how do future generations know where we’ve come from?” Caroline Smart, Durban.
“I lived and went to university at Rhodes. This little place wouldn’t be the same if it were not called Grahamstown – PLEASE keep it that way!” – Sophie Whiteley, London.
“I lived in Grahamstown as a Rotary Exchange Student. I met there wonderful people, Blacks, Coloureds and Whites. All of them proud of being South African and more especially Grahamstonians….South Africa has got many challenges to face amongst which are poverty, Aids and housing. Please focus on those before considering minor problems.” Thomas Lejeune Debarre, Belgium.
“As a proud ex-Rhodes student with many fond memories of Grahamstown it would be such a loss to change the name of this lovely town.” – Pamela Andrews, Johannesburg.
“Spend the money on services and facilities not on polishing the Mayor’s soap box.” – Mike Wiblin, Hilton.
“We oppose the changing of the name and hope the Makana Municipality, in its infinite wisdom, will see the light. Use your position of power rather to feed, educate and uplift your people.” Tina & Chelsea Cookson, Florida, USA.
“Most important for this country and this city is to fight poverty. Tourism is a big market and brings a lot of money to Grahamstown. The international world os used to the name Grahamstown. A name change will cause severe losses for business, followed by retrenchment of staff, causing more poverty.” – Dr Claudia von Lingeling, Grahamstown.
“As an alumni of Rhodes living in NZA, it’s vital that the name Grahamstown stays because it is synonymous with a high standard of education and opens doors this side.” Claire Webb, Papakura, New Zealand.
“Changing the name will not right the wrongs of the past. By keeping the name we are all reminded of the history of the region and the events that took place. This will allow us to learn from the past and not make the same mistakes in the future.” – Jason Mannering.
“What can the purpose be of doing away with such a quaint name for such an old, quaint place. Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown and I am SERIOUS.” Karin Berman, Canada.
“I support keeping the name ‘Grahamstown’.” Lyn Blaker, Manukau City, New Zealand
“The Mayor needs to focus his time and energy on the more pressing issues at hand.” Maryanne Adams, Perth, Australia.
“I am living in London now, but a born and bred Eastern Cape girl. Please, Grahamstown’s name cannot be changed. It would be devastating!” – Monya Bassingthwaighte, London.
“Please keep Grahamstown as it is….we can’t lose the G-SPOT!” – Leigh Kenmuir.
“The Mayor is out to impress No.1 Mbeki. It is sad when politics replaces plain common sense.” – Andrew Bowker.
“Keep Grahamstown unchanged. It is not a name of a town – it is an institution!” Linzi.
“The name should stay! South Africa was founded on multiple struggles and Grahamstown was an outpost for the South African conquest for all. That is how it came to be. Therefore changing the name of Grahamstown must have the most monumental reasoning because, if not, there will be a major disapproval from an enormous amount of proud Rhodians!” – Konrad Czypionka, Port Augusta, South Australia.
“Grahamstown is recognised all over the world by people who have no interest in the political agendas of certain interest groups. The Romans invaded what is today England, committed atrocities and gave the British capital a name which as remained unchanged regardless of its origin.” – Melanie Schwarz, Port Elizabeth.
“History is important and Grahamstown is history. Yes & Yes again, Grahamstown should not have a name change!” – Mike & Liz Peirson.
“I feel the name of Grahamstown should be kept. The reason being that the place has an excellent reputation as being the home to institutions as Rhodes University. What would a change in name really achieve?” – Warren Veasey, London.
“Any Mayor of Grahamstown must work to solve the problems of unemployment, crime, poverty and disease.” – Mike Crampton.