A-Z Place Names of South Africa (MapStudio), by Ann Gadd
One fact we learn from the guide A-Z Place Names of South Africa (MapStudio) by Ann Gadd, is that the origin of place names is seldom an exact science, which makes it even more interesting.
Introduction to A-Z Place Names of South Africa
The passing of time has a way of blending fiction with fact, making it sometimes hard to separate the two; also, various authorities often hold differing opinions on the origin of many place names of South Africa. In the early days indigenous languages were only verbally recorded. Even when European settlers arrived, the majority were illiterate, meaning that place names often relied on oral rather than written records. As a result, many names became derivations or corruptions of the original words and at times, altered or translated to suit the understanding of later settlers. Languages themselves evolved, creating discrepancies in spelling and sometimes meaning. There were also differences of opinion. In one instance the son of magistrate C. B. Otto recalls that his father came up with the name Ottoshoop, while other sources say President Kruger was responsible. The name Johannesburg, for example, has a particularly intriguing and diverse range of possibilities. Throughout the book, I have attempted to research as many different resources as possible and to present the findings, while discarding those I have found to be clearly invalid (even if they are posted on hundreds of websites!). Interestingly, whereas indigenous people named places according to the natural occurrences found there (The place where the cattle lie down', 'place of reeds', etc.), the European settlers primarily named places after people (themselves, the farm owners, royalty, benefactors, governors, missionaries, etc.). Of these, Lord Charles Somerset (1767-1831) and Simon van der Stel (1639-1712), both governors of the Cape, must rank among the most popular. At times, dates for the establishment of towns may differ by a few years, when not officially declared. This is most likely because of the time taken to lay out the town, or because towns gradually sprung up around a church, school or railway station, leaving it open to interpretation as to when exactly a few houses or shacks became a village. Sometimes towns were moved, mostly to better water vantages, while sometimes they were deserted and resettled. As to inclusion, all cities and towns are featured, as well as most villages and certain settlements and townships where information was available. Suburbs for the most part are not featured, with the exception of those of particular interest and some of those that were at one stage individual towns and became incorporated into larger cities or towns. When choosing things to do in a place, I'm aware that I expose myself to the widest possible range of criticism, because in a book of this nature it's utterly impossible to cover every event, farm stall, sporting tournament, restaurant and place of interest for each place without making the book into a voluminous, impractical tome. A friend asked me what I had learned about South Africa from writing A-Z Place Names of South Africa (MapStudio). Aside from the obvious interesting information and the desire to travel further, I learned that we are a country of vast differences that through time immemorial have led to often violent clashes between tribes, races and cultures. Yet I am now at peace with this seemingly persistent warfare and I look beyond it to the beauty of all that is this country.
This is an excerpt from: A-Z Place Names of South Africa (MapStudio), by Ann Gadd.
Title: A-Z Place Names of South Africa (MapStudio)
Subtitle: Origins, History, Attractions
Authors: Ann Gadd
Genre: Local history
Cape Town, South Africa 2015
ISBN 9781770267114 / ISBN 978-1-77026-711-4
Softcover, 14 x 21 cm, 224 pages, throughout maps and photos
Gadd, Ann im Namibiana-Buchangebot
MapStudio's guide A-Z Place Names of South Africa introduces to 900 name origins, history and attractions.
Discover the beauty of South Africa’s beaches with MapStudio‘s Life's a beach: Your Round-the-Coast Guide.