Zimbabwe Sheds More British Names

Associated Press

Colonial-era names were eliminated Tuesday on most of Zimbabwe’s major government buildings as well as districts and rivers, and African ones were assigned.

Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s office released a list of the new names, which replace relics of British and white Rhodesian days. For example, the Milton building, housing Mugabe’s office, was renamed after an 18th-Century tribal kingdom, Munhumutapa.

Most of the new names honor leaders of the fight against formerly white-governed Rhodesia, but only the Seven Heroes Building in Chinhoyi, 75 miles north of the capital of Harare, refers directly to the guerrilla war that resulted in black rule and independence in 1980. (Harare itself was called Salisbury until 1980.)

The Earl Grey building--named for an early chairman of the British South Africa Company that colonized the southern African country who is also memorialized by a popular tea--is becoming the Mukwati Building. Mukwati was a chief who led an early uprising.


Another structure--housing the Central Intelligence Organization and named after Sir Charles Coghlan, prime minister of the colony of Southern Rhodesia in the 1920s--has been rechristened the Chaminuka Building. Chaminuka is a powerful ancestral spirit that was invoked by black guerrillas to win peasant support during the seven-year insurgency that overcame the white secessionist government of Prime Minister Ian Smith.

In Bulawayo, capital of the southwestern province of Matabeleland, only one government building still bears the name of a white administrator--the Tredgold building. It was named after former Chief Justice Sir Robert Tredgold, who resigned in 1960 in protest against laws giving the government the power to detain suspects without trial.

In all, the names of 13 government buildings were changed.

The 107 other changes involve rivers, the names of which were rendered incorrectly by the white explorers who first mapped the country. Golojo, for example, becomes Gulugi.