Older white people who live in Durban are still finding it difficult to accept the street name changes. The other day, I was told that, because Shaka ceded the land to white settlers, Durban is therefore a colonial city and is entitled to reflect colonial names. The other argument is that the current government wants to deny history.
* wanting names to change is an identity/self esteem thing
* it reflects there has been a change from colonial/apartheid governance to democratic governance
* our city now reflects a more diverse population; it now represents more of the people who love here
* it also reflects more recent history such as those who contributed towards the struggle and those who identified with the struggle; not changing some names would reflect only ancient history. History is constantly on the move
* did Shaka ceding land to white settlers and allowing them a settlement mean he could foresee a future where whites dominated to the extent that they did? Where they disenfranchised everyone else the way they did? Even if he could have foreseen this, does that make it acceptable?
* changing names is not about who does or did own the land but about finally being able to have a say
* changing a name does not change history but it does reflect more recent history
* the very fact that white people are so attached to the names of the past underlines the emotional significance that names hold for people
* surely white people, who still have so much, can give something up? Why can they not, with humility and grace, grant this small victory to the government of the day without kicking and screaming? Can we not see that we, who have taken so much, should not resist change so ungraciously? We, who destroyed so much; who treated so many as if they were not human; robbing them of dignity, family life, permission to participate in the economy, live where they want, marry who they want, be schooled where they want, we still hanker after symbols of this past?
* is putting up with 100 name changes so much to ask