What is in a name? A great deal according to a group of prominent Cape Town Christians who are not happy that the mountain in the middle of the city is named after the devil.
In a move that will be welcomed by many people who have been praying about this issue for years the group met with the Western Cape Provincial Geographical Names Committee (WCPGNC) on Friday, May 30, and proposed the renaming of the mountain.
Scripture leaves no doubt that names are important and meaningful. In Genesis 2 we read that God gave Adam the task of naming “beasts of the field and every fowl of the air”; God renamed Abram who became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob was called Israel and Saul became Paul. Isaiah prophesied that a virgin will bear a son and His name would be called Immanuel, meaning God with Us. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” One can write an article entirely focused on the meaning of names!
Devil’s Peak is not a good choice of names for the mountain that together with Table Mountain towers above Cape Town. Nor has it always been the name chosen for the peak. The mountain has, in fact, had a long list of names. A drawing in the journal of traveler and author, Sir Thomas Herbert, which is dated 1638, shows the peak named Herbert’s Mount; a map dated 1657-1660 indicates the name as “Windberg / Duiwekop”; and in 1675 it was called King Charles Mount by English map and chart seller, John Sellar. Other names given to the peak include, inter alia, Blase Baltch and Mont du Vent (around 1691), and The Sugar Loaf (around 1777). A legend about an 17th century Dutch pirate who, whilst sitting on the mountain one day, got into a smoking competition with a stranger, who later revealed himself as the devil, resulted in the mountain being renamed Devil’s Peak. The story of Van Hunks was recorded by Ian D Colvin in The Romance of South Africa. There are also oral records of an indigenous name //Hui !Gaeb, which means ‘Place where the clouds gather’.
In recent years many individuals and groups have ascended the mountain with flags and banners to pray and petition God for guidance and help with regard to the renaming of the mountain. There is a recorded attempt of a letter being sent to former President Nelson Mandela in 1996 requesting a name change, as well as other similar attempts since then with little or no success.
In 2011, a group of Christians came together and decided to unite their efforts and submit a formal application to the WCPGNC, which subsequently took place under the banner of Transformation Africa in 2012. Transformation Africa was the name given to the initiative in 2001 that has culminated in the annual Global Day of Prayer. A process of consultation was meant to follow but, for various reasons, failed to get off the ground. Prayers for the renaming have, however, continued without fail.
The presentation to the WCPGNC was a milestone reached for the group of individuals who have led this cause in recent years, including Director of Cape Peninsula Transformation Africa and CCFM Station Manager, Rev. Barry Isaacs; Cape Town Advocate, Murray Bridgman; Leader of Friends from Abroad, Ashley Cloete; Head of Prowess Investments, Maditsaba Moloko; and businessman and founder of NEMO SA and the Red Dot for Unity, Marcel Durler.
The appeal to the Committee was clear: Cape Town must be liberated from the demonic name; renaming the mountain would set a precedent for peace within the city and beyond; and one of the original names of the mountain, namely, Dove’s Peak (Duiwenkop) must be reinstated. For most people, irrespective of their spiritual persuasion, the symbolism of the proposed name is clear – PEACE. For many Christians, the symbolism extends to that of the Holy Spirit and God’s anointing.
The next phase of the campaign will see a public launch during July and an extensive consultation process with communities, business, government and other stakeholders.