Friday Flash: E-Tumbleweed Town

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“//Hui !Gaeb,” Gertruida’s pronunciation is perfect, forming the clicks with ease, “that’s what they’re going to call Cape Town.”

“I think it’s a shame,” Vetfaan says sadly. “Everybody else gets singled out for forced name changes, but we get ignored.”

“Yes. It’s called discrimination against minority groups. It’s only the popular places that get targeted. Even Upington is called something different these days, but I can’t say //Khara Hais.” Kleinpiet makes a pitiful effort to get his tongue around the word.

“I propose we approach the government with a suggestion. We’ll see who lived here first, then ask them.”

“But you know as well as I do, nobody lived here, ever. Rolbos is just a forgotten, lost bit of Kalahari, that’s all.”

Gertruida shook her head. “Some Dutchman discovered the place, when Simon van der Stel went on that expedition to find Monomotapa in 1685. They found copper deposits further south, but nothing more. I guess he’s the one who gave us a name.”

“So we have a Dutch name? Rolbosch?”

“No, man!” Gertruida rolls her eyes in disgust. “I think rolbos remains rolbos in Dutch. Like tolbos, too.”

“But the government will insist on Africanising the name. You know how they are. All the good old Dutch and Voortrekker names are being thrown out. If we can’t propose a proper name, we’re screwed. They’ll dump some funny name on us, like E-Tumbleweed Town. I don’t want that. We’ll have to get something with a !, or a #, or some //’s in.”


Gertruida wrote the official letter, requesting the Minister of the Interior to change the name from Rolbos to Rolbos!.

They’re still waiting for the answer.


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