By: Lindokuhle Mnisi
I was listening to SABC’s SAFM this morning (Morning Show with Siki Mgabadeli) and a caller phoned in and asked this question “Why is this country still called South Africa?” I started thinking and many questions started roaming in my mind. The name South Africa is, according to me, a colonial name that colonialists gave to this country. Zimbabwe was once called Rhodesia (1965-1979) (by British colonialists) and it changed to be the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1980 after the defeat of the white minority government.
Nyasaland was colonized by migrating tribes of Bantu around the 10th century. In 1891 the area was colonized again, this time by the British. In 1964, Nyasaland gained independence and was renamed Malawi.
Northern Rhodesia was colonized during the Bantu expansion of the thirteenth century. After visits by European explorers in the eighteenth century, Zambia became the British colony of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. For most of the colonial period, the country was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company. Today Northern Rhodesia is called Zambia
The list of the countries that were colonized goes on and on. South Africa gained democracy (independence) in 1994 when the ANC took power, defeating the National Party that was predominantly white minority government (apartheid). The first black and democratically elected president was Dr Nelson Mandela. South Africa never changed their colonial name until today. The name “Mzansi” is dominating on the streets but nobody is thinking of implementing it as country’s name.
South Africa is a multi-racial and multi-cultural state but the issues of prejudice are still dominating. Race is still the issue because of the imbalances of the past. Blacks are accused of being stuck on the past and never want to move on. The ANCYL is fighting for Economic Freedom. According to the ANCYL NEC , the economy of South Africa still belong to the “White monopoly capital” and it must be taken and shared.
But the question is: When is South Africa going to be called with a unique name? “South Africa” is just a description name, describing where the country is situated. When a person asks “Where is Mzansi?” an answer can be ‘in South Africa’. But now if somebody asks, where is South Africa? The answer is “South Africa is in South Africa”. Where is the uniqueness of the country then?
The apartheid system has divided the nation, yes, but as much as I would love to move on, I would love to see the name of this country being changed. Not to cater for only the apartheid victims (blacks) but all the country’s population. A first step has been taken and I congratulate the government for that step, street names change. The street names have been changed in the Tshwane City and there was an outcry which I think was just an excuse to attack the ruling party and its president, Jacob Zuma. This nation has to be unique, not to kill the history but to move away from history that brings tears on our eyes.
People who are reluctant to change will always tell you about budget and economy when something has to be done. When you have to buy a washing powder, your kids complain that “you should have bought a bunch of apples”, they forget that there is a budget for everything and they will need the soap on weekends for their clothes. The governing party must take the South African name change to parliament to be discussed, I think it’s about time.