WHY is the ANC hell-bent on forcing the name Makana on Grahamstown? ("DA calls for restart on name changing", October 16)? It has already (more than a decade ago) foisted the name on the municipality based in the town, but its preference for it remains a mystery, for several reasons.
Firstly, it is an incorrect version of the name of the self-proclaimed prophet who led Xhosa warriors to their doom in 1819. Correctly spelt, it is Makhanda.
But nobody knew the man by that name anyway. For superstitious reasons, the Xhosa avoided it and instead called him Nxele (left-handed).
The Boers translated the name as Links – and the British, misunderstanding the Boer version, rendered it as Lynx.
Secondly, the man was no hero – although it seems to be ANC orthodoxy that he has to have been, because he was exiled to Robben Island and died while escaping across Table Bay. He deceived the Xhosa leadership into believing his fantastical tales of divinely ordained revenge against the white invaders, so much so that this common-born man was declared to be an nkosi. Strange to think that some want to respect him solely because of this rank.
Worst of all, he produced muti which, he claimed, would render the warriors impervious to the soldiers' bullets. This was brutally exposed as a lie by the slaughter on the hill between the present-day cathedral in Grahamstown and the railway station.
The ground ran with blood, giving rise to the name eGazini that some still use for the central parts of Grahamstown. It seems the ANC is determined to expunge the name Graham from popular memory, and for this purpose has propagated tales of Col John Graham's "brutality" and "inhumanity" during the Fourth Frontier War.
It has backed the wrong horse in the person of Makhanda/Nxele, but it has nothing else to fall back on, since nobody seems to know the origin of Rhini, while the name Egume is apparently favoured by nobody.
Mike Oettle, Westering, Port Elizabeth