Port Elizabeth
Formerly Port Elizabeth, now Gqeberha. (Getty)
  • The names of the airports in East London, and the Nelson Mandela Bay city formerly known as Port Elizabeth, officially changed on Tuesday.
  • Uitenhage, King William’s Town, and Maclear all have new names too.
  • Name changes saw new impetus in the Eastern Cape in 2020, but not all the now-official names are without controversy. 
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Two secondary airports – and one fairly big city – have official new names from Tuesday.

Arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa recognised the new names by publication in the Government Gazette, alongside a handful of registrations of existing geographic names, and some spelling corrections.

All the newly-names places are in the Eastern Cape, which saw a surge in interest in renaming in 2020

The major new names are:

  • Port Elizabeth airport is now Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport
  • East London airport is now the King Phalo Airport
  • Port Elizabeth itself is now Gqeberha
  • Uitenhage is now Kariega 
  • King William’s Town is now Qonce
  • Maclear is now Nqanqarhu

See also | Here’s what we know about Dawid Stuurman, the man behind PE airport’s new name

The plan to name the airport in East London after King Phalo drew criticism from a group of traditional leaders. They said it should be named after Chief Pato of AmaGqunukhwebe instead, because, they claimed, the land on which the airport is situated falls under the land of Pato, and not Phalo of AmaXhosa.

Renaming Port Elizabeth, which falls within the Nelson Mandela Bay metro and is often referred to as such, also met some initial opposition when it was proposed in 2020.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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