'Names are so important': Outrage over JP Smith's refusal to say host's name

Before City of Cape Town Mayco member JP Smith started his speech, he said he would not even try to pronounce event host Abongile Nzelenzele's surname because, in his words, it had 'too many vowels, too awkwardly placed'.

FILE: City of Cape Town Mayco member JP Smith. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Twitter users have expressed their outrage over City of Cape Town mayoral committee member JP Smith's blatant disregard of the pronunciation of event host Abongile Nzelenzele's surname.

Nzelenzele was the host of an event on behalf of the city's film industry.

Before Smith started his speech, he said he would not even try to pronounce Nzelenzele's surname because, in his words, it had "too many vowels, too awkwardly placed".

He followed the offensive remark by saying: "You need a short, compact one like me - Smith."

Radio host Clement Manyathela and 702 listeners debated the issue on air, with many black people sharing how the refusal to pronounce their names is disrespectful.

"You are respecting me when you are pronouncing my name correctly and making an attempt to pronounce my name correctly instead of making a silly joke. Names are so important, they are so meaningful to a lot of us," said Manyathela.

"We are in Africa and you want to say oh we are all Africans but you refuse to say Mthimkulu, Malerato, Hlatshwayo. What is your Africanism then?" said Nandi, a caller.

"I am ten times angry at this issue of JP Smith. It goes to this issue of white entitlement. They ask us to pronounce their names," said another.

Another caller, Nicholas, dismissed the outrage, saying it wasn't racist: "I think you are promoting this racism thing by making a mountain out of this molehill. I think you really have to calm down with this whole issue. It is really not that bad in the greater scheme of things."

Listen to the full audio below...

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