January 19, 2001

Northern Province mulls new name

Northern Province could adopt the new name of Limpopo if popularity ratings on a shortlist of suggestions announced by the Committee on the Renaming of the Northern Province is anything to go by. An Ndebele word meaning "The Place of Waterfalls", it also holds a lot of meaning for the people of the region, according to committee chairman Edgar Mushwana, who made the announcement on Thursday. "People also say the name is a symbol of life, because the river looks after them. Even when it dries up, water flows beneath the surface." He was referring to the Limpopo River, which flows through the Lebombo mountains in the northernmost parts of the province.

After receiving more than 250 suggestions from the public and other interested parties, Mushwana said the name Limpopo had cropped up 49 times. The most popular other suggestions were Great North, Capricorn and Mapungubwe. "Great North was suggested by 17 people, who felt that we should honour the heritage of Cecil John Rhodes," he said. However, according to guidelines laid down by the Renaming Committee, one of the main criteria for the selection of a new name is that it has to be indigenous, without colonial connotations. Nearly two dozen people suggested the name Capricorn, pertinent to the fact that the Tropic of Capricorn crosses the province. Another popular suggestion was Mapungubwe, referring to the place in the northern Limpopo valley said to be the cradle of civilisation in Southern Africa and also home to a thousand-year-old archaeological site. (MAIL&GUARDIAN)

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