Land of ferns and honey: How the Khoekhoe described the Cape

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Land of ferns and honey: How the Khoekhoe described the Cape

Philani Nombembe | 2017-03-21 15:47:34.0

The town‚ river and lagoon were named after a prominent feature of the landscape. File photo

Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Ever wondered where Knysna‚ jewel of the Garden Route‚ got its name?

It stems from the Khoekhoe word “naizna”‚ which means ferns. The town‚ river and lagoon were named after a prominent feature of the landscape.

This is one of the names contained in the Khoekhoe geographical names brochure launched on Tuesday by Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais.

The brochure is meant to raise awareness of place names in the province that were derived from the Khoekhoe heritage.

Significantly‚ the launch was held under a tree at the Platteklip Wash House‚ where Cape Town’s laundresses plied their trade in the mid to late 19th century.

Marais said there were more than 12‚000 geographical names in the province and the “standardisation and verification” of all of them was “progressing well”.

“These names represent aspects of our province’s history that should be restored and cherished for future generations‚” said Marais. “This brochure promotes place names in this province that are derived from Khoekhoe heritage‚ which is a tangible indication that the Western Cape government acknowledges the province’s shared heritage and its diverse cultures.”

Social historian and poet Khadija Heeger said the brochure was overdue. “I am glad that it has finally been delivered‚” she said.

“We must never forget the colonial narrative because of the impact it had on us. The renaming (process) is also about people feeling acknowledged and feeling grounded in a space where they have been feeling disposed for many‚ many years.”

Professor Mawande Dlali‚ deputy chairman of the provincial geographical names committee‚ said: “We have been working on this for quite some time. I think other provinces will learn from what we have done. The fact that we held it outside at a place that has got a history‚ that in itself speaks volumes.”

WHAT’S IN THE NAME?

Karoo: From “garo”‚ meaning desert‚ arid‚ hard‚ dry field Outeniqua: From “//Ou” (a bag)‚ “teni” (honey) and “qua” — “men who carry honey” Tsitsikamma: From “tse-tsitsa” (clear‚ transparent) and “gami” (water) — “place of much water” Goudini: From “gou” (bitter) and “dini” or “denni” (honey) — bitter honey

TMG DIGITAL/TimesLIVE



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