The government of Zimbabwe has approved the renaming of roads in the capital Harare, and other cities to honour African liberation icons, Zimbabwean independence struggle stalwarts, and political figures who have supported the African cause. Those honoured include, Angola’s Agostinho Neto, Botswana founding leader Sir Seretse Khama, Patrice Lumumba, and Kenyan anti-colonial activist and first President Jomo Kenyatta.
The proposed changes are part of a series of new names for streets and buildings across the country. Many of the street names to be replaced reflect the country’s colonial past.
Some of the streets which are being renamed in Harare include Speke Avenue, which will change to Agostinho Neto Avenue in honour of Angola’s founding leader, Angwa Street renamed to Sir Seretse Khama Street, and Third Street renamed Patrice Lumumba Street after the Congolese politician, and independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Other figures also honoured are South African liberation icon Oliver Tambo, second President of Egypt Abdel Gamal Nasser, Algerian revolutionary Ahmed Ben Bella, and late former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
The honour bestowed on Castro does not come as a surprise to many Africans considering Cuba’s assistance to liberation movements across the continent during the Cold War era. Cuba was also heavily involved in training troops of many African liberation organisations. The help that Castro and Cuba offered to the Algerian National Liberation Front could never be forgotten.
Castro also hosted a number of African liberation and post independence leaders including icons such as Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere among others. Cuba also sent thousands of doctors, teachers and other medical professionals to work in various African countries.
Castro remains a hero for many Africans, and he is also remembered for being a moral voice against the imperialism, colonialism, and neo-liberalism.
Lack of inclusiveness
While many Zimbabweans on social media have applauded the government for renaming many roads in honour of African anti-colonial heroes, some have criticised the unilateral nature of the process, which lacked public consultation and inclusivity.
What has been cited by numerous voices is the worrying politicisation of the process, and there are questions about the extent to which the ordinary citizens across Zimbabwe have been involved in this important and sensitive process.
Also contentious is the fact that 10 streets across the country are being named after President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced ousted late president Robert Mugabe.