- January 6, 2022
- Posted by: Vambo Academy
- Category: South Africa
GQEBERHA, previous known as Port Elizabeth, is a city in the Eastern Cape that lies on the Alloa bay of the Indian Ocean. The city was established in 1820 as a British settlement around Fort Frederick (The oldest British building in Southern Africa built in 1799) and was incorporated as a town in 1861. The city is often referred to as the “Friendly” City or the “Windy” City. Gqeberha is the second-oldest colonial city in South Africa.
How the City was initially named “Port Elizabeth”
The story behind the city’s previous name of “Port Elizabeth” is one of love and loss. Approximately 200 years ago, the early British settlers colonised the city and appointed its citizens as leaders over the region.
Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin was acting governor of the Cape Colony when the settlers first landed. While still in Yorkshire, Donkin fell madly in love with Elizabeth Markham and they married at a young age . In July 1815 it was unfortunate that Elizabeth became gravely ill and she died in 1818 . Rufane Donkin was shattered by his wife’s passing and as a result he had her heart embalmed .
Two years later, Donkin still suffered from the traumatic effects of his wife’s untimely death. Donkin found himself in Algoa Bay, organising the 1820 settlers. Donkin named the small settlement near Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth, in honour of his late wife. He went further to immortalise the memory of his wife by building a pyramid-like structure called Donkin Memorial which holds an inscription that reads “In the memory of one the most perfect of human beings who has given her name to the town below.”
Donkin Reserve, Pyramid & Lighthouse. Source: © Bjorn Grotting
The city was renamed to Gqeberha on 23 February 2021 after the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee (ECGNC) announced the likelihood of a name change in 2019. This was part of a greater scheme by the South African government to transform South Africa’s landscape to include indigenous names, symbols and references in places of common interest. The change of names was the starting point to achieving the objectives of the programme. The names of places we live in reflect the identity and cultural heritage of the people. The region was called Gqeberha prior to colonisation. The name change is a way to acknowledge the roots of the indigenous people and their history.
What does the name “Gqeberha” mean ?
Gqeberha is the Xhosa name for the Baakens River which flows throughout the City .
The pronounciation of the name may sound complex but practice makes perfect!
GQE – this is part of the Xhosa clicks falling under the “q” click. To perfectly pronounce the word, pull your tongue down from roof of mouth to mimick the sound of a cork popping.
BE – this is a strong and deep “B” sound. “BE” is pronounced like the word ‘bear’ in English.
RHA –“ Rha” syllables towards the end are pronounced with a rolled R which sounds similar to the “G” sound in Afrikaans. Another way of saying the final “RHA” sound is to snore a bit when you’re pronouncing it
Click the audio below for the pronunciation of GQEBERHA .