Hundreds of predominantly white South Africans have staged a demonstration against plans to change the capital’s name from Pretoria to Tshwane.
The city was named after Andries Pretorius, a Boer settler and a folk hero of Afrikaners who later set up the apartheid racial discrimination system.
Former president and Nobel Prize winner FW de Klerk urged the government to rethink its decision.
Tshwane, meaning “we are the same”, was the name of pre-colonial local chief.
Protesters marched to the culture ministry to hand in a petition from those opposed to the name change.
Some held placards, declaring “Pretoria stays Pretoria” and “Tshwane is not my father”.
The city council approved the switch to Tshwane in March as part of moves to make place names more African, but opposition campaigners say they feel marginalised.
Mr de Klerk, who was South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, said Pretoria was “the symbol of the anti-colonial war” fought by Afrikaners against the British empire.
“The spirit of compromise, inclusivity, consultation and reconciliation . . . has been replaced by a new insistence on imposing majority agendas and symbols on the whole country—including its minorities,” he said.
The South African Geographic Names Council is due to meet next week to decide whether to change the name on all maps.