Having reviewed another book on place names by Ann Gadd (Things Ewe Never Kn’ewe About South African Place Names – https://artscomments.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/things-ewe-never-knewe-about-south-african-place-names/), a profilic and diverse South African author/artist, I was itching for something more comprehensive and more serious. Before my wishes were written in a review of that book, this book, A-Z Place Names of South Africa, with over 900 places listed was published by Map Studio.
A-Z Place Names of South Africa brags that it gives not only name origins and history but also attractions. The first place I looked up was “Vereeniging”. I was disappointed that neither the Treaty of Vereeniging (ending the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902) nor Sharpeville which gives us Human Rights Day on 21 March every year were mentioned. However, paging to “Sharpeville” itself rectified the latter. However, the “Vereeniging Drive-In” is no longer operational. Neither the Tourism Department nor the local residents know about it. Pity, because this would have been a fun activity for a group of youngsters who have never been to a “drive-in”.
Of course, there are some fascinating entries. Gonubie (where my father spent his high school years after his father was transferred to East London in 1937) was only sub-divided into plots in 1933, one of which was purchased by my grandfather. Gonubie takes its name from the Khoikhoi word for the Cape Bramble.
Copperton, Northern Cape, was only formed in 1972 and it is already nearly a ghost town (57 inhabitants at the 2011 census), the copper mine for which it was named having been shut down in 1991. The town is near Prieska and despite the fact that I lived in the Northern Cape for two years I had never heard of the place.
This book is perfect for keeping in that small, important room in the house where one has time to sit and read short articles. It should also go on holiday with one so that one can look up place names as one travels. Lots of interesting and fun facts to liven up a long road-trip.
- Title: A-Z Place Names of South Africa
- Author: Ann Gadd
- Editor: Thea Grobbelaar
- Publisher: Map Studio
- Date: 2015
- Price: R250.00
- ISBN: 978-1-77026-711-4