On 19 September, African People’s Convention (APC) MP Themba Godi took to Twitter following a meeting in Limpopo, tweeting: “There was enthusiastic endorsement of APC policies to abolish provinces and the name Azania for our country.”
This follows calls by civil organisations and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa in June this year to rename the country to something other than its geographic location.
The name proposed by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) is Azania, an Arabic word meaning “Land of the Blacks”.
Speaking to Stephen Grootes of 702, PAC General-Secretary Narius Moloto explained the reasoning behind the suggested name, stating: “Azania is the original name of the southern tip of Africa and research by Professor Es’kia Mphahlele clearly revealed that the real name of South Africa is actually Azania.”
“The name Azania is derived from the term ‘Azanj’, which is an Arabic reference to the old slave trade era, when the Arabs where facilitating the slave trade. But they always referred to the southern part of Africa as ‘Azania’ – that’s why we have Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania,” he continued.
Reports state that numerous calls have been made in the past to change the name, but were opposed by the ANC.
We asked a few people for their thoughts on the proposed new name:
“I don’t think it’s necessary and it’s such an expensive thing to do. I’m not particularly attached to the name South Africa and I’m not particularly attached to the name Azania either; in fact, I think it’s a bit pretentious.” – *Melody Mchunu
“I think it’s really pretty. I think name changes are important and I think it needs to reflect the current situation, so I think it’s a good idea.” – Nicola Popplewell
“It doesn’t feel right and it will take time for us to get used to Azania. We’re used to South Africa. I don’t think there’s a need to change it – we’re fine with South Africa.” – Phathu Luvhengo
“I’m OK with South African. Maybe it’s the name that I’m just not used to, but Azania doesn’t say ‘I’m home’ to me. To be quite honest and to put it quite simply, I don’t feel the name. I also think there are so many other options that would work better that I could come up with. I also think there are bigger problems that we should be dealing with. There are bigger issues to be debated than the renaming of our country.” – Skhalo Modiba
*Name has been changed