Gqeberha, and the Importance of Language

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This week, the South African government announced that the names of several towns and public infrastructure. One city in particular, Port Elizabeth, got many South Africans talking, as its new name, Gqeberha, proved to be difficult for many people to pronounce.

Gqeberha is the Xhosa name for the river that flows through the city and is one of the few languages in the world that uses various clicks. It’s the native language of Nelson Mandela and many other indigenous people and one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. 

Personally, I’m happy for the name to be changed. I think that local languages deserve more exposure and should be more prevalent in the country. Even though I may struggle to pronounce many of the names, it presents me with a wonderful chance to learn new words in languages that are beautiful and unique in their own way. 

Changing many of the country’s names is a good way to move past South Africa’s sad history or Apartheid and gives some solace to those people who were discriminated against because of their race or beliefs. 

I’m fiercely proud of my country, and though it has many bad points, I believe that the South African people are some of the kindest and most friendly people you could ever meet.

So, I’m going to do my best to open my mind and take this chance to embrace learning a new language, or even eleven!

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