Reclaiming our institutions


I HAVE been pondering about names for most of my life — I have written volumes on them too.
Without doubt, the manner in which we map and name our physical spaces in our discourse is a matter of critical concern.
In our discourses, renaming should be seen as an act of redrawing ideological and cultural spaces that were brutally erased by the coloniser.
Every name carries with it a package of meanings, assumptions, myths and legends that narrate all aspects of human endeavour.
We have a vision for the nation and we seek to carry the country’s flag higher in our endeavour to sell the Zimbabwean ethos.
Our institutions are our cultural bastions and the names they possess are significant.
We are delighted that the Harare International Airport has been renamed the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Our names, indigenous names, are who we are.
In our founding fathers we see the Zimbabwean identity, tradition and values.
Some of the names of our institutions glorify the atrocities of the imperialists while this latest development is a step in the right direction.
This development must not stop, it must gather momentum; schools, streets and buildings with names that do not define us must go.
Colonial names alienated us from our culture, our economy and our heritage
We have adopted names, Western names, that do not carry any meaning to us — let us do away with these.
Visitors to our beautiful country on landing will know who we are and what we stand for through the name of our airport.
We are a revolutionary people, we are steadfast and will not cower; we stand in the family of nations straight and proud.
We are a people who respect and value our heroes.
We make no apologies for reclaiming our spaces through renaming.
Since independence, we have been renaming our places and areas of interest, we are not stopping.
We dream of Selous Hotel being renamed Mapondera Hotel.
We have done well with our roads.
Roads that had been named after prominent settlers and British personalities such as Rhodes, Jameson, Salisbury, Stanley, Baker, Montague, Moffat and others were renamed after liberation war heroes, nationalists and historical figures such as Kaguvi, Nehanda, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira, Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe, Rekai Tangwena, Jason Moyo, Simon Mazorodze, Samuel Parirenyatwa, Josiah Chinamano and Josiah Tongogara.
Other streets were named after regional leaders such as Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Samora Machel of Mozambique, Nkwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
I end with a quote from the late Kwame Nkrumah.
“We are an independent country… we have to be associated with an identity that defines us as a people and as a nation.
Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.
Let us continue being proud of who we are, we are a mighty people.”


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