Durban Street Names

Many of the major streets in Durban have been renamed to honour heroes of the liberation struggle.

  • Aliwal Street is renamed after Samora Machel – who was a Mozambican military commander, revolutionary socialist leader and eventual President of Mozambique.  Machel led the country to independance in 1975 until his death in 1986, when his presidential aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain where the borders of Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa converge.
  • Argyle Road is renamed after Sandile Thusi – an ANC leader in Umlazi and MK member involved in various operations.  He went on a hunger strike for 32 days whilst in detention.  He was the head of eThekwini Municipality Communications Unit.
  • Berea Road  is now King Dinuzulu –  Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (1868-1913) was the king of the Zulu nation from 20 May 1884 until his death in 1913.  He succeeded his father Cetshwayo, who was the last king of the Zulus to be officially recognized as such by the British.
  • Booth and Spine Roads are named after Harry Gwala –  As an ANC activist he was sent to Robben Island for eight years.  After his release in 1972 he was restricted to the Pietermaritzburg area.  He was elected the first Chairperson of the ANC in the Natal Midlands after the unbanning of the movement in 1990.
  • Brickfield Road is renamed after Felix Dlamini – a social worker by profession and a personnel Manager. He was the ANC’s Durban South Regional Chairperson and the first Black eThekwini Municipal Manager. He also served as a member of the Provincial Legislature from 1994 to 1999.
  • Cato Manor Street is renamed Mary Thipe Street – after a former vice chairperson of the ANC’s Women’s League.  She was involved in the Cato Manor Beer Hall March in 1960 where women chased men who were drinking sorghum beer while their children and wives starved.
  • Davenport Road is renamed after Helen Joseph – a South African anti-apartheid activist, born in Sussex, England and graduated from King’s College in 1927. After working in India as a teacher for three years, Helen came to South Africa in 1931. She was a founder member of the Congress of Democrats and one of the leaders who read out clauses of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955.
  • Edwin Swales Road is renamed after Solomon Mahlangu – a cadre of the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe – the Spear of the Nation.  On March 2 1977, Solomon was sentenced to death by hanging. On April 6 1979, 23 year old Solomon Mahlangu faced the gallows and met his death.
  • Field Street is renamed after Joe Slovo –  Joe, born in Lithuania in 1926 moved to South Africa with his parents at the age of nine.  He was General Secretary of the Communist Party, first Minister of Housing in the new South Africa and political commissar.  He also played a significant role in the establishment of the Government of National Unity.
  • Francois Road is changed to Rick Turner Road –  Dr Richard Albert Turner was a visionary scholar and lecturer at the former University of Natal who inspired a generation of young activists and helped galvanise the labour movement’s resurgence before his assassination in 1978.
  • Frere Road is now called Esther Roberts Road –  Esther Robert’s house was built by her parents in 1896 and was the first house on Frere Hill in Glenwood.  Declared a national monument in c.1980, it today houses the Phansi Museum of African artifacts.  Miss Roberts was born in this house and died there in 1980, well into her eighties.  She was best known as one of the first female anthropologists in South Africa and was a prominent member of the Black Sash Movement.
  • Gale Street is renamed after Magwaza Maphalala – a COSATU leader who fought for workers’ rights. He was also KZN’s Communist Party leader and a member of the KZN Legislature in 1994.
  • Gardiner Street is now Dorothy Nyembe Street – Dorothy Nyembe was born in 1931 in Thalane, Northern KwaZulu-Natal near Dundee.  In 1952, she was one of the leaders of the Defiance Campaign against all discriminatory laws.  Later on she became the Deputy Chair of the ANC Women’s league in Natal and worked closely with stalwarts like Chief Albert Luthuli, Moses Mabhida, Nelson Mandel, Walter Sizulu and Oliver Tambo.
  • Jan Smuts Highway is renamed  King Cetshwayo – after Cetshwayo who became the Zulu king in 1872 after Mpande.
  • Kensington Drive is renamed after Adelaide Tambo – born on 18 July at Top Location, Vereeniging, she was the first lady as the wife of the ANC President O R Tambo.  At the age of eighteen she joined the ANC Youth League and was later on elected chairperson of the George Gogh branch.
  • King George V Road is now Mazisi Kunene Road – Kunene (1930-2006) was an epic poet who lived in KwaZulu-Natal.  He studies at the University of NAtal and won the Bantu Literary Competition Award in 1956.  He also worked for the ANC in London during the apartheid years and taught African poetry in the United States.
  • KwaMashu Highway is renamed after  Curnick Ndlovu – Ndlovu, born in Matatiele in 1932, moved with his parents to Durban’s famous settlement Umkhumbane, in 1941 in search of work. Ndlovu, a unifier, a true leader and a non-racist, fought for better living conditions in prisons.  He played a pivotal role in uniting political prisoners on Robben Island.  He also recruited comrades from the Black Consciousness Movement, some of whom are prominent leaders in the ANC and Government today.  He worked with other prominent ANC leaders like former  President Chief Albert Luthuli, Dr Monty Naicker, Dr Yussuf Sadoo, Moses Kotane, Govan Mbeki and Ruth First.
  • Leopold Street is now David Webster Street – Webster was born in 1945 and grew up on the mines in the Copper Belt of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia).  He was a social anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand and an anti-apartheid activist who was shot dead by security forces outside his home in Johannesburg.
  • Mansfield Road is renamed after Steve Biko – the founder  of the Black Consciousness Movement. Born on 18 December 1946 in King William’s Town, he was South Africa’s most influential and radical student leader in the 1970’s and a law student at the time of his death.  In 1972 Steve Biko broke away from NUSAS to form SASO (South African Students Organisation).  He was instrumental in founding the Black People’s Convention and was also leader of INYO- National Youth Organisation.
  • Marine Parade is renamed after Oliver Tambo – founder member of the ANC Youth League.  He was born in the village of Kantolo, 20 km from Bizana in Pondoland, on 27 October 1917.  HE formed a black lawyer’s association with Nelson Mandela. He was also a Commander-in-Chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the longest serving President of the ANC.
  • Old Fort Road is now named after K E Masinga – a presenter in the first Zulu language radio station of the SABC.
  • Ordinance Road is now  Bram Fischer Road –  Abram Fischer was born on 23 April 1908 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State. In 1943 he helped A B Xuma revise the ANC Constitution.  He was also a member of the Congress of Democrats and formed part of the defence team for the leaders of the movement during the Treason Trial of 1956 to 1961.  In September 1964 Fischer was arrested and charged with being a member of the Communist Party, then an illegal organisation.  He was granted bail and in January 1965 he went underground, only to be recaptured in November of that year.  In 1966 he was found guilty of violating the Suppression of Communism Act and conspiring to commit sabotage leading to a conviction of life imprisonment.  In 1967 he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.
  • Pine Street is renamed Monty Naicker Road – after a a member of the Natal Indian Congress who, together with Dr Xuma and Dr Dadoo formalised a pact to work together, which was commonly known as the 3 Doctors Pact.
  • Prince Edward Street is renamed after Dr Kassavelo Goonam – She was among the earliest Indian women activists in the Natal Indian Congress. She received her medical training in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1946 she participated in the passive resistance campaign.
  • Russell Street is renamed Joseph Nduli Street -after the first member of the Luthuli Detachment. He was also a commander of MK and an organizer in the Provincial Office of the ANC after its unbanning.  He was killed during the hijacking of his vehicle.
  • Shepstone Road is renamed Qashana Khuzwayo Road – Khuzwayo was an educator, community leader and a business leader.  He was among the residents who resisted the formation of the Bantustans.
  • Smith Street is now Anton Lembede Street – Lembede was born on 21 March 1914 in Eston, Natal.  He was the first President of the African National Congress Youth League and an educationalist.
  • Sparks Road is renamed after Moses Kotane – Born in Rustenburg in the Western Transvaal in 1905, he came from a devoutly Christian peasant family of Tswana origin. In 1928 he joined the ANC but found it a disappointingly ineffectual organisation.  The same year he joined the African Bakers’ Union, an affiliate of the ne Federation of Non-European Trade Unions.  In 1929 Kotane joined the Communist Party and in 1931 he became a full-time party functionary.  Working both as a party and a union organiser, he also did the type-setting for Umsebenzi, the Communist Newspaper then edited by Edward Roux. As one of the CPSA’s most promising African recruits, Kotane was offered an opportunity to go to the Soviet Union, and for a year in the early 1930’s he studied at the Lenin School on Moscow.
  • Warwick Avenue is now Julius Nyerere Avenue – Julius Kambarage Nyerere (13 April 1922 – 14 October 1999) served as the first President of Tanzania and previously Tanganyika, from the country’s founding in 1964 until his retirement in 1985.
  • West Street is renamed after Dr Pixley KaSeme – a founder member of the Natal Native Congress and later the President of the ANC.
  • Winder Street is now known as Dr Langalibalele Dube Street – Dr John Langalibalele Dube, born in Natal in 1871 was the founder of the Ilanga newspaper that is still in print today.  He was also a former President of the ANC.
  • Windermere Road is now Lilian Ngoyi Road – Lilian Masediba Ngoyi, “Ma Ngoyi” (1911-1980), was a South African Anti-apartheid activist.  She was the first woman elected to the executive committee of the African National Congress, and helped launch the Federation of South African Women.  A year after she joined the ANC Women’s League in 1952, she was elected President of the organisation.  On August 9 1956 Ngoyi led a march along with Helen Joseph, Albertina Sizulu and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against the apartheid government requiring women to carry passbooks as part of the pass laws.

No Longer At This Address

Peter Machen, in an excellent publication developed for an exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery, explains why the street name changes took place in Durban, who the streets were originally named after and who the people behind the new street names are.

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