Port Elizabeth no More: Kabega, the Khoikhoi name for the Baakens River

Main picture: 1810 map of the Baakens Valley before the lagoon was filled in with stone from building sites in Main Street. Note also the paucity of dwellings

Gqeberha = Kabega (Kwêbêga)?

Kabega (EC 3325 DC). Khoikhoi name for the Baakens River, which enters the Indian Ocean at Port Elizabeth, at 33 58S, 25 38E. Derived from tkäa, tka, ‘valley’, the name means ‘in the valley’ or ‘valley river’: the Xhosa name for the river, eVeli, has the same meaning.

eVeli (EC 3325 DC) Xhosa name for the Kabega River at 33 58S, 25 38E. It is derived from English valley and means ‘in the valley”.

Two years after the arrival of the settlers. Sketch by Lorimer based upon the original of Samuel Hudson

According to Annette du Plessis this name originates from the Khoikhoi & San, who intermingled with and had a huge influence on the Xhosa people, as far as language is concerned. They even named the Xhosa people “Xhosa”. Furthermore the clicks in the Xhosa vernacular, stem from the Khoikhoi and San language. Think “Kabega” & “Gqeberha”….. And “Gaibexa” meaning “full of taaibos”.


PE Raper, New Dictionary of South African Place Names (2nd edition), Jonathan Ball, Johannesburg, 1989

Jon Inggs


  1. Or?
    EQeberha (EC 3325 BA; 33:57:15S, 25:36:20E; -33.95417, 25.60556). Xhosa name for Driftsands Reserve, 4 km south of Port Elizabeth. Thought to be an adaptaptation derived from Khoikhoi //khaib, //khaeb, ‘riversand’, ‘driftsand’.


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