I was quite taken by the debate on Asikhulume, a television programme on SABC 1 hosted by Xolani Gwala every Sundays, yesterday. The topic on discussion at this particular moment was the renaming of Luis Trichard, a city in the Limpopo Province, to Makhado. The AFriforum, an organisation that champions Afrikaners’ interests, culture and politics, objects to the project of renaming Luis Trichard to Makhado on the basis that there was no extensive consultation by the South African Geographical Council before which name-change was effected. According to this forum, the Afrikaner community which had crafted the name Luis Trichard is at loss here because name change constitutes a disregard of its contribution to the reshaping of modern South Africa. To it, a change of the city’s name is not only an affront to Afrikaner’s dignity but involves a terrible worst of public finances that could be otherwise expended in other meaningful projects such as housing for low-income earners. A variant argument to this was that the name Luis Trichard had racial and apartheid connotations hence it did not capture the whole spirit of democratic transition and reconciliation. So, those names that seem to represent a residual of apartheid should be done away with in favour of all-inclusive and progressive names.
There are a number of competing theories for or against geographical name changes in South Africa. I do not want to delve into the depth of these positions at this point. The argument is that this debate inspires me to look at myself and ask the question: How different would I be if I were not called Mbuso? Crafted differently, the question could be: What is it that identifies me as Mbuso?
In light of the above, it cannot be disputed that there is a lot in a name. A name carries culture; it carries pride, and national consciousness. Conventional social thinking posits that people’s names tend to constitute a true epitome of their personalities and abilities. Thus one who is called “Diligent” would always execute his obligations diligently! A name, in other words, is an embodiment of one’s skills, values and principles with which he identifies himself/herself. Interestingly, skills, for example, are not the creation of a particular name that one is given at birth. Skills are acquired over time. Thus, I am able to define myself as a skilled social science researcher, report writer, a team player, a developmentalist, and a self-driven person because I acquired some of these skills through rigorous academic training, and from the World of Work Internship Programme that I am currently attending at Wits University. As such, one can easily say that Mbuso has particular abilities that employers are looking for. It is these abilities that I need to supply to prospective employers. This does not end here, however. After securing employment, I must prove to my employers that I am worth my name!