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South African Place Categorisation

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 31 Dec 2018 [unknown]
Location: South Africamap
Profile manager: Andrew Field private message [send private message]
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Little categorization of South African places has been implemented. South Africa’s geopolitical history is complex. Two colonizing nations took a part in developing parts of South Africa and fought wars over territory. Great treks (movements of people) took place and various republics were formed and they too succumbed to war or cession with one of the colonizing nations.
To further complicate this history there were wars fought over territory with ‘Bantu’ nations, such as the Zulus and the Xhosa, not to mention internecine conflict resulting in ‘Bantu’ migrations. The territory as we know South Africa today came together in 1910 as the Union of South Africa, absorbing the independent republics into the colony. The Republic of South Africa became a sovereign independent state in 1961. For the purpose of this exercise they are treated as one for place names, since there was little change during their duration and they are commonly referred to as just South Africa. Much of this is mapped at this link South Africa Country Naming.
Toward the mid-1970s a number of quasi-independent (nominally independent and self-governing) Bantustans (often referred to as homelands) came into being (or changed their status), mostly a scattered patchwork of enclaves. In 1994 South Africa began to enjoy universal suffrage, the outcome of which, as pertinent to this proposal, was a splitting of some Provinces and place name changing.
We should not ignore the fact that South Africa has many official languages and these should be catered for. Pre-1994 Afrikaans and English predominated (not to forget Dutch). Today there are eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
So, it is with a little trepidation one might make a proposal concerning South African name places. This 'project has already been discussed in part at Renaming Category South African Roots - communication
The following is a personal draft documenting a proposed category mapping of the themes South Africa and Former Countries in Africa. The first stage of this ‘project’ is to clearly outline the second and perhaps third tiers to accommodate the placement of ‘landing’ categories for districts, cities, towns and settlements where South Africans were born, lived and died.

A Note on Categorization

Before we venture any proposal, we need to understand just exactly what indexing and categorization are all about and we must look to the product and benefits of indexing and categorization, not just its physical or theoretical structure. In that light the following are important products and benefits of categorization:

  • finding where something or someone is ‘filed’ (capacity to search), in this case by place names;
  • establishing associations (through listing or what we may call clustering - all people from one place);
  • bringing together vital identifiers, i.e. the categories, on the actual profile (swift and pertinent review of the profile).

It is very important for profile managers to recognize that location name categorization is entirely voluntary and that the choice is that of the individual profile contributing managers. If your ideas vary dramatically from this proposal, you should seek Categorization Project approval for you category and structure.

Parent Category

The principal root category for all places is Category:Regions and all South Africa places shall be subsidiary to the second tier, Category:Africa. Subsidiary to this there are two categories within which branches shall unfold:

Places Theme

The general trend with Places themes, as the author understands it, is that immediate under a state, province or county comes the Places theme. This is normally styled as such:

[[Category:<state, county or province>, Places]] where <state, county or province> is usually the province name (expectedly the category tier above it).

However, unless other themes are going to materialize under the Provincial categories, the use of this tier is very much superfluous. In due course, other themes may materialize, such as Cemeteries (but note that category is already sitting immediately under Category:South Africa with a list of other themes). Perhaps there may be restructure. It is proposed that this tier be left out for the time being OR that it be elevated above the Provincial Categories. The best fit, as I see it is under Category:South Africa along side Category:South Africa, Historic Places.

Subsidiary Tiers

  • Category:Former Countries in Africa
    • British Bechuanaland (because it was administered by the Cape Colony and eventually ceded territory to the Union, such as Mafeking)
    • British Kaffraria1835-1866
    • Cape of Good Hope, British 1795-1910
    • Cape of Good Hope, Dutch 1652-1795 (perhaps Kap of Goode Hoop)
    • Griqualand West Republic 1870-1880
    • Griquland East Republic 1861-1874
    • Klein Vrystaat 1876-1891
    • Lydenburg Republic 1856-1860
    • Natalia Republic 1839-1843
    • New Republic 1884-1888
    • Orange Free State 1854-1902
    • Potchefstroom 1837-1844
    • Republic of Graaff-Reinet 1795-1796
    • Republic of Stellaland 1882-1883
    • Republic of Swellendam 1795
    • South African Republic 1852-1902 (Possibly Republic of Transvaal as it was better known)
    • State of Goshen 1882-1883
    • United States of Stellaland 1883-1885
    • Utrecht Republic 1854-1858
    • Waterboer's Land 1813-1871
    • Winburg 1836-1844
    • Winburg-Potchefstroom 1844-1848
    • Zoutpansberg 1835-1864
    • Zulu Kingdom 1818-1897
  • Category:South Africa
    • South Africa, Historic Places (under which those listed under Former Countries in Africa shall be nested)
    • South Africa, Provinces 1910-1994
      • Cape Province, South Africa
      • Natal Province, South Africa
      • Orange Free State Province, South Africa
      • Transvaal Province, South Africa
    • South Africa, Provinces Post 1994 (nominations for better desciption accepted)
      • Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
      • Free State Province, South Africa
      • Gauteng Province, South Africa
      • KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa
      • Limpopo Province, South Africa
      • Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
      • North West Province, South Africa
      • Northern Cape Province, South Africa
      • Western Cape Province, South Africa
    • South Africa, Independent Homelands
      • Bophuthatswana 1977–1994
      • Ciskei 1981–1994
      • Gazankulu 1971–1994
      • KaNgwane 1981–1994
      • KwaNdebele 1981–1994
      • KwaZulu until 1972-1980
      • Lebowa 1972–1994
      • QwaQwa 1974–1994
      • Transkei 1976–1994
      • Ulundi 1981–1994
      • Venda 1979–1994

Cities, Towns, Settlements and Districts

Below the above subsidiary tiers it is proposed to introduce cities, towns, settlements and where more appropriate districts (for example districts may be more appropriate to the Dutch Cape of Good Hope). It is proposed that only place names that may be populated with profiles should be set up. Thus each Place shall be implemented as and when editing and categorization of profiles takes place. The standard acceptable format for place name categories shall be:

[[Category:<proper name of city, town of settlement>, <state, county or province>]]
  • <proper name of city, town or settlement> being the historic or current official name at the time of the place to be listed;
  • <state, county or province> being usually the province name (expectedly the category tier above it). South Africa presently has nine provinces. The province must be stated, for example (using current Provinces and provincial capitals):
[[Category:Bhisho,Eastern Cape Province]]
[[Category:Bloemfontein, Free State Province]]
[[Category:Johannesburg, Gauteng Province]]
[[Category:Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal Province]]
[[Category:Polokwane Limpopo Province]]
[[Category:Mbombela, Mpumalanga Province]]
[[Category:Mahikeng, North West Province]]
[[Category:Kimberley, Northern Cape Province]]
[[Category:Cape Town, Western Cape Province]].

Landing Level Name Transitions

Because there have been name changes of Provinces, Districts, Cities and Towns through the duration, it is proposed that both old and new names must be represented. This follows the historic fact of names at the time of an event, a birth, a death, a burial. Old and new names will be linked through the use of Category Information Boxes (CIB)

Implementation of the Theme

It is proposed that the entire root structure down to third tier be implemented, and I offer to do this work. All categories are required to have a short descriptive narrative. Each tier down from Category:Former Countries in Africa and Category:South Africa to the third tier, those mentioned inclusive, shall be restricted for profile placements and this shall be notified. Only landing level Places populated with profiles should be introduced by users (although there is the temptation to put provincial and home land capitals in place for usage). Otherwise, each Place shall be implemented as and when editing and categorization of profiles takes place.
Once the root tiers are in place, profile managers may begin to categorize their profiles.

Proposed Deletions or Changes

The South African Place names categories are not exactly a clean slate to work off, and it happens that a number of place names have been created, a few of which are wrong, or do not conform to the standard being developed for place naming, or do not recognize the geopolitical history.


The author seeks the collaborative input of the Categorisation Project, and South African Roots Project both of which he is a member. Categorization Project members may deliberate through its Google Groups facility. The South African Roots Project do not to use the Google Groups preferring policy to be discuss at the G2G level (inclusive of all interested parties). Other interested parties may collaborate via the author's Profile - Andrew Field, or on this free-space page.
Most regrettably this initiative has been rejected entirely by the South African Roots and Cape of Good Hope Projects
Suggest that profile managers wishing to categorise their profiles with location names, do so following the guidelines set up in this proposal. Should anyone need assistance, please contact the author Andrew Field.

Affect on South African Roots Project Themes

This proposal might impact on the Category:South African Roots Project and we need to carefully assess the impact of the Places theme proposed, especially with the progenitors themes. The author seeks guidance of project leaders in this area. There seems to be much similarity between Historic Places proposed and the Progenitors.


Notification of this proposed listing will be implemented in the South Africa category and the Former African Countries category, which are active, thus allowing other users access to the proposal before entering non-conforming Place categories.

Category Resource Listing

This proposal and any listings herein are work in progress and may still be subject to adjustment. Members may therefore wish to consult, as above, if in doubt. The List below excludes categories already deployed.

General Mapping

The general rule for South African Place names will thus be along these lines:

  • Regions
    • Africa
      • Former Countries in Africa
        • <country name> <date range>
          • <province name> Province, Places (proposed to be left out for time being)
            • <town/city name>, <province name> Province
      • South Africa
        • <province name> Province, Places (proposed to be left out for time being)
          • <town/city name>, <province name> Province

[Edited by AD Field 31 December 2018]


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