Cape Town, Western Cape
South Africa
Gugulethu Nkosi Johnson Street since 10 October 2013
one name
Zapiro, Makeba, Biehl among Gugs street names

Cape Town - A child Aids activist, a neurology professor and even a controversial satirist are among those to be honoured when 90 NY streets in Gugulethu are renamed.

Shado Twala, who heads the panel tasked with sifting through the 4 500 proposals to replace the derogatory “Native Yard” designations, said the process “brought out all (types) of passions”. As some of the proposals had to be discarded for being non-compliant with the regulations, the panel was able to put forward names of its own choosing. “Where no name was nominated for a street, or none of them fell within council policy, your panel of experts used their discretion to honour illustrious musicians, poets, writers and artists,” said Twala in her letter of recommendation to the mayor.

Although none of the respondents during the participation process recommended it, the panel decided that NY 151 should be renamed Enoch Sontonga Street, after the composer of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. The panel was unanimous that NY 91 should be renamed Nkosi Johnson Street after the child Aids activist. Another young person to be remembered is Amy Biehl, who will have NY 147 named after her. Biehl was an American anti-apartheid activist who was killed by a mob in Gugulethu.

Satirical cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro is to be honoured for his contribution to press freedom and social commentary with the renaming of NY 106 as Zapiro Lane. Don Tshomela, a jazz artist who lived in NY 65, is remembered for putting Gugulethu on the map. Neurologist Frances Ames will be remembered when NY 111 is named after her. Ames, a UCT emeritus professor, implicated doctors involved in the cover-up of Steve Biko’s death and she was awarded the Star of Africa civilian award by former president Nelson Mandela.

Women feature prominently in the set of new names, with Ruth Hayman Street being proposed for NY 24. Hayman was one of the first women to qualify as an attorney. She offered free legal advice and was banned under apartheid legislation. Dora Tamana of the ANC Women’s League is honoured in the renaming of NY 89. Albertina Sisulu’s name could soon be on the NY 149 street sign, while Miriam Makeba will have NY 154 named after her. Another struggle stalwart to be remembered is Lillian Ngoyi, who will be honoured with the renaming of NY 19.

Nature is recognised with some of the new names, such as Iqwarhashe which means zebra or diversity, and Intyatyambo Street which translates into “we would like our street to blossom like a flower”. Twala said it was also decided that NY streets would be given proper descriptions, so some would be “lane” or “drive”. NY 1 was renamed Steve Biko Drive last year.

The panel whittled down the thousands of suggestions by breaking down the streets into batches of 15. The committee gave special consideration to language, historical significance, cultural context and location. The suggestions were collected after extensive public participation.

These 90 suggestions will be referred to the mayor and naming committee, before being opened again for public comment. They will then go to the council for approval.

Anel Lewis, Independent Online IOL

15 August 2013
Anel Lewis, Cape Town