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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

S. Africa Resists Renamings

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- South Africa's drive to abolish colonial and apartheid-era place names has met surprise resistance in parts of the black community, where activists accuse the ruling African National Congress of honoring only its own heroes.

Thousands of demonstrators thronged the streets of Durban -- now part of a newly named, major metropolis called eThekwini -- on May Day to protest government proposals to rename nearly 200 buildings, roads and other landmarks.

The protest, which was led by the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party, said the city's African National Congress-dominated council had railroaded through the name changes without sufficient consultation or consideration.

Among the names suggested were Andrew Zondo, Solomon Mahlangu, Anton Lembede and Moses Mabhida, all heroes of the ANC, which in 1994 led South Africa to its first all-race elections.

Debate over name changes is nothing new in South Africa, where the government has gradually rewritten the map to phase out many place names honoring apartheid-era white leaders and the country's earlier colonial legacy.

Port Elizabeth is now officially the Nelson Mandela Metropole, Pietersburg has become Polokwane and the former province of Transvaal has been split into three: Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

The process has already raised hackles among some Afrikaners, white descendants of original French and Dutch settlers who were the architects of apartheid and stamped their names across many of South Africa's landmarks.