Cape Town’s street names reflect her ever-changing history with the who’s who of our colonial past and our democratic future being etched into our memory banks along with flora, fauna and some downright funny names also included on our colourful city’s map.
Afrikaans heritage makes for some funny street names
Cape Town’s identity as a truly cosmopolitan city has been ferociously backed up by her street tags and there are many Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans and English road names. Some funny Afrikaans translations include Banghoek (Scared corner) Street, Broeksman (Pantsman) Crescent, Dikkop (Thickhead) Way, Keel (Throat) Close (something one doesn’t want to happen too often), Katjiepieiring (Cat’s saucer) Road, Kennetjie (Little chin) Street, Skaamrosie (Shy Rose) Road, Langbeentjie (Long little legs) Close, Plakkies (Flip-flops) Street and Nieshout (Sneezewood) Street.
Fitting names for a social nation
Babblers Place and Chat Lane in Robinvale are only fitting street names for such a friendly, social nation, not to mention Peer Close (something the neighbours often do over fences in this area) and Tally Ho Road in Mitchells Plein.
In keeping with the neighbourly good-naturedness are Helpmekaar (Help each other) Street in Shirley Park, along with Krymekaar (Get each other) Street and Soekmekaar (Search for each other) Road in Macassar.
Also in line with the partying nature of our country’s people are streets like Fundance Street in Khayelitsha, Jig Road in Montague Gardens and, for the alternatives, Metallica Crescent in Groenvlei.
Worst vs. Best Street bodings
Listed among some of the street names one would want to avoid for their doom-and-gloom factor would be Moody Avenue in Epping , Defiant Street in Rocklands, Mahem Crescent in Robinvale and probably best steered clear of is Loco Road in Woodstock.
Street names that bring warm-fuzzy feelings and associations might include Kremetart Close in Loevenstein, Mallow Street in Hazendal and count me in for Present Street in Wellington!
Other streets that describe themselves in a positive manner (or rather boastfully in some cases) are Goodenough Avenue, Nice Road and Pleasant Place, all pipped by Perfecta and Matchless Roads.
Fairyland just outside of Paarl has some really interesting and relatively nouveau street names, such as Burning Sky, Modern Art, Limelight & Rainbows End. In line with Burning Sky Street is Khayelitsha’s Shushu Crescent – shushu meaning ‘burning hot’.
The meaning of ‘Cranko’
But there are some names that are quite odd. Take Cranko Avenue, for instance. Is it a reference to the oddities that inhabit the space, the cranks of Tokai or does it mean something totally different? After further research, it turned out that the street was named after John Cyril Cranko, a leading ballet dancer and choreographer who died a most unlikely death, choking to death after suffering an allergic reaction to a sleeping pill he had taken on a transatlantic flight.
Gay rights entrenched
Cape Town is the celebrated city where gay rights have been firmly entrenched and this too has been reflected in the street monikers. Gay Lane, Street and Road in various areas all embrace our pink brothers and sisters and even though there is no mention of Straight Street, there are plenty of references to the Queens of the Cape. And while Wigtown Road and Mincing Lane also fit in nicely in Greenpoint, Homer Road does not refer to any sexual orientation but rather to the legendary Greek poet.
Refer to the ‘burn ‘n turn’ brigade
An ironic street name is that of Casino Street in Beacon Valley, one of the poorer areas of the city where up until 1994 gambling was strictly prohibited. Punt Street, in the same area, probably refers to the millions of punters who daily throw away armloads of cash in online betting operations. And although there is no direct reference to betting, there is a Bettington Square in the city itself.
One little floral lane that has raised a few eyebrows is that of Cannabis Walk, a plant with intoxicating effects. Celebs are also remembered in places like Strand where comic hero Charlie Brown has a street, along with Cinderella, Madonna and many other celebrities en masse in Celebes Walk in Mitchells Plain.
And just for their sheer cuteness factor, names like Ihobohobo Street in Khayelitsha and Tinktinkie Street in Somerset West come to mind.