Ever since Gateway News broke the story about a campaign to rename Devil’s Peak on Friday, June 6 2014, there has been a media flurry that has spread from Cape Town to America. The story was picked up and carried on the front page of Afrikaans daily, Die Burger, the following Tuesday, which resulted in the group behind the action being inundated with requests for interviews, including one from BBC Radio and E-TV. Most of the initial comments from the public have reflected a certain level of irritation at what they deem to be a trivial and wasteful initiative, preferring to see the name of the Devil remain in the Mother City.
Director of Transformation Africa, Barry Isaacs, who is a member of the group calling itself the Mountain Name Change Committee (MNCC), says: “The difference of opinion is a democratic right. However, the implication of this effort to change the name of the mountain is that, instead of a name signifying evil, we can have one of the original names of the peak, which is universally accepted symbol of peace, reinstated. By replacing the name of Devil’s Peak with Dove’s Peak, we can position Cape Town as a forerunner in promoting peace.”
A question that has been raised by many of those who have voiced an opinion is: why bother with symbolism when there are other problems facing society, like poverty and a lack of housing?
One response from a member of the public was: “You are definitely correct, but in order to do all that, the renaming should come first. That will then change the spiritual atmosphere over Cape Town, and create one that is godly. Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty. Liberty from joblessness, poverty, poor infrastructure, sickness and immorality. May God fulfil and answer the prayers of his saints. Amen.” Isaacs’ response is that the organisation he directs is involved in grassroots initiatives to help the poor. “We use money often forked out of our own pockets,” he says. “As a Christian, if you go into the Old Testament, there are examples where kings tore down idols and, as a result, enjoyed good health and prosperity. The other point that was made via an SMS I received is, why should we give credit to someone who hasn’t even created anything?” Isaacs adds.
One of the comments published on local news site, News24, states: “The easiest way to make this a non-issue is by stop believing in the devil! Once you stop believing in the devil, you not only make this a non-issue, you also get rid of many fears and problems. This will lead to a happier life and you can attend to issues that really matter.” Still another comment on a site called, ClimbZA, states: “It’s the 21st century, man has been to the moon and back, but still there are people that think that a name of a peak contains an unseen spiritual force that we cannot overcome.” These and other similar comments appear to show a general trend of unbelief in the existence of spiritual forces or the authenticity of the Bible, which clearly states that ‘we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world , against spiritual wickedness in high places’ – Ephesians 6: 12. This verse is quoted in a response to the previous Gateway News article, which states: “It’s not just about a name… Mountains represent places of authority, of rulership and influence over a sphere of society…”
According to Isaacs, he has spoken to non-Christians about the campaign and some have voiced their support for it. He says the MNCC is finalising plans to reach as many interested and affected parties during the month of July. “Our aim is not to have this action perceived as a fanatical Christian initiative, but rather to place the focus on the wellbeing of the City. I have been to various places in the world and the desire of most people, when they see the world bleeding, is for peace – almost everyone can embrace this,” Isaacs explains.