By Siyabonga Maphumulo

“Heroes like Albert Luthuli are our heroes too, projects that happen are ours too, therefore there needs to be consultation,” said Stokes. In its defence, the ANC said those who were “sympathetic to apartheid” had slackened the speed of transformation.

ANC Cllr S’bu Sibiya said his party was not seeking to score political points but was ensuring transformation occurred. “The mayor and city manager have been mandated to start with the consultation process,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo said it was high time the city started with the renaming process. “Who was Smith or West?” he asked. Naidoo said most people, including himself, could not identify with the current street names in the city. “But I can identify with (Mahatma) Gandhi, (Margaret) Mncadi and Mabhida,” he said referring to some of the proposed names.

According to the street renaming list submitted to the council, the following changes will occur: Victoria Embankment/ Margaret Mncadi; Stanger Street/Stalwart Simelane; NMR Avenue/Masabalala Yengwa; Point Road/Mahatma Gandhi; Alice Street/Johannes Nkosi; Broad and Grey Street/Yusuf Dadoo; Commercial Street/Bram Fisher; and Northern Freeway M4/Ruth First.

The council’s Masakhane, Grants-in-Aid, Nonracism and Nonsexism Committee is in charge of the renaming  process. It must consider the change of names of places and facilities of historical importance in the city centre, including the renaming of roads and council buildings. So who exactly was . . .

Moses Mabhida

He was instrumental in setting up the ANC’s Intelligence and Security department. In 1985, while in Havana, Mabhida suffered a stroke, and after a year of illness, died of a heart attack in Maputo. He was buried there in March 1986.

Chief Albert Luthuli

Elected President-General of the ANC in 1952. As Chief of the Emakholweni in Groutville, he came up with policies aimed at economic reform for the community. He  participated in many mass protests, such as the Defiance Campaign of 1952. He was arrested in 1956 and charged with treason, together with 155 other leaders.

Margaret Mncadi 

She was the first president of the ANC’s Women’s League in KwaZulu-Natal. In 1959 she led a protest march of about 500 women from rural districts to town where they demanded to see the Native Commissioner for a reply to their grievances.

Stalwart Simelane

He was an ANC leader in the 1950s. As a teacher in the 1930s he helped establish high schools for Africans. In 1952, while serving as assistant secretary of the Natal ANC, he led the first batch of Durban volunteers in the Defiance Campaign. He was elected to the national executive committee of the ANC in 1952.

Masabalala Yengwa

At an early age he became Durban Secretary of the African Congregational Church, later becoming a deacon of that church. He represented the ANC at the World Council of Churches’ meeting in Geneva to draw up a programme to combat racism.

Mahatma Gandhi

The pioneer of Satyagraha, or non-violent resistance. A British-educated lawyer, Gandhi first employed his ideas of peaceful, civil disobedience in the Indian community’s struggle for civil rights in South Africa.

Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for the alleviation of poverty, for the liberation of women and for brotherhood among religions and ethnicities.

Johannes Nkosi

Nkosi was one of the first African leaders of the Communist Party of South Africa and the party’s most  renowned political martyr. While still in his teens he   participated in the ANC’s antipass campaign of 1919. He was killed by government forces in his mid-20s at an anti-pass demonstration.

Yusuf Mohamed Dado

Dr Dadoo was a Communist Party activist and defendant at the Treason Trial in 1956. In the 1940s and 1950s, he took part in campaigns for the rights of blacks and people of mixed race. He was repeatedly imprisoned. In 1945, Dadoo was elected vice chairman of the ANC.

Bram Fisher

He defended the accused during the Rivonia Trial in 1964. In the same year he wasarrested and charged with being a member of the Communist Party. In 1966 he was found guilty of violating the Suppression of Communism Act leading to his conviction and life imprisonment

Ruth First

Journalist, academic and political activist. As a journalist she specialised in expose reporting and her incisive articles about slave-like conditions on Bethal potato farms, the women’s anti-pass campaign, migrant labour, bus boycotts and slum conditions remain among the finest pieces of social and labour journalism of the 1950s. She later married Joe Slovo, a lawyer and labour organiser and, like her, a communist.