Pretoria Changes Name to Tshwane

Pretoria, South Africa is now known as “Tshwane.”

Pretoria name change is approved (BBC)

A recommendation that the name of South Africa’s capital be changed from Pretoria to Tshwane has been unanimously approved. The Geographic Names Council took four hours to back the change. Tshwane is the name of a pre-colonial local chief and means “we are the same”. Supporters of the change say the switch will underscore South Africa’s break with apartheid in 1994.

Changing from an highly established, pronouncable name to a new, unpronounceable one didn’t work out so well for the Artist Once Again Known as Prince. Perhaps Pretoria/Tshwane will work out better.

Of course, the main context in which the name “Pretoria” occurs to me is the song “Marching to Pretoria.” One wonders whether it’ll change to “Marching to Tschwane” or become a historical oddity.

via Steven Taylor, who observes, “I have no idea, for example, why Montgomery is called Montgomery, or Dallas is called Dallas.” Quite right. Which reminds me of a great exchange from “Pulp Fiction” wherein Butch (Bruce Willis) explains to Esmeralda, “I’m American, honey. Our names don’t mean shit.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jwbrown1969 says:

    I don’t care what they name their capital, but is it too much to ask that it be pronounceable.

  2. Michael says:

    Or, maybe Tschwane is perfectly easy to pronounce and South Africans don’t give a shit about what Americans think about its pronouncibility.

  3. McGehee says:

    I vote we pronounce “Tschwane” as “Pretoria.”