A corrective programme instigated by councillors to change the names of streets in Botswana’s second largest city has been labelled as revolutionary by Africans worldwide.
Councillors agreed to reclaim the names of the city's streets ‘to make them more in tune with its indigenous heritage’ as reported by the MmegiOnline news site.
The article continues; “Beginning with its name, Francistown echoes the ‘happy’ colonial past of europeans who settled it, pushing the natives to the fringes. The councillors who advocated for a clean break with this opprobrious aspect of their city have realized the importance of the politics of space; that people who occupy a space must stake their title to it.
The point is that Francistown's African history has always been shielded from view because of our collective amnesia as a nation and a poorly articulated - and misplaced - fear that any expression of African pride would scare foreigners away.”
Francistown: Colonial name for a modern state
Reclaiming African sovereignty
Botswana whilst late in adopting this mature stance to African sovereignty follows in the footsteps of regional powerhouse Azania (South Africa) which in 2005 faced much criticism from westerners for changing the name off its capital changed from Pretoria to Tshwane despite unanimous approval from the state and people.
Nonetheless the changes went ahead and all those involved received a swell in popularity and respect across the Pan African world. In 2006 the governing African National Congress (ANC) was successful in taking the initiative further and introduced policy to correct the unlawful historic arrogation of indigenous names for roads and public places by European colonial invaders.
Whilst there is some opposition to the progressive ANC policy from the aging Freedom Front Plus movement, many regard their racist views as belonging to a dinosaur era.
In Botswana, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Councilor James Kgalajwe wrote; “Instead of calling our streets names like Blue Jacket, Francis Driveway, Moffat, there are our own role models like Rebecca Nshakazhogwe, Philip Matante. These are people who developed the community”
External LinksThe name change revolution is goodPretoria name change is approvedA city, by any other nameCity of Francistown
Cllr Kgalajwe: One of many seeking African remembrance
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Is it right that many African nations, cities and streets across the Continent continue to retain the names of barbaric racist invaders? Should their indigenous names be reclaimed?
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