Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says it will shortly launch an exercise to correct misspellings of some of its streets and suburbs — a carryover from the colonial era.
A full council meeting adopted the resolution after a resident, Khumbulani Maphosa, wrote a letter saying the wrong spellings were “linguistically and culturally wrong”.
White settlers who ran the council before Independence in 1980 were responsible for the naming of suburbs and signage which typically carried misspelt words in the local language. No effort was made to correct the misspellings after Independence.
Maphosa wrote to the BCC: “I write to you requesting that the Bulawayo City Council expeditiously consider correcting the misspelt Ndebele names of some suburbs/locations and or streets of the city that were mostly misspelt by the pre-independence local authority.”
He identified some of the suburbs whose names were misspelt as Mpopoma, Nketa, Makokoba, Pelandaba, Pumula, Lobengula, Kumalo, Masiyepambili and Matsheumhlope.
Maphosa said they should be changed to Mpophoma, Makhokhoba, Phelandaba, Phumula, Lobhengula, Khumalo, Masiyephambili and Matsh’amhlophe.
He said the misspelt names symbolised colonial disrespect of the Ndebele language and culture, and the BCC had to make a policy decision to have the names corrected. Maphosa said colonial errors should be revisited and corrected to restore honour to Ndebele people.
“These wrong spellings are linguistically, culturally, morally, legally, socially and ethically wrong,” he wrote. “These misspelt names are a violation of the Ndebele human, linguistic and cultural rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013, in international law as well as in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.”
Councillors concurred with Maphosa and okayed the name changes which could cost thousands of dollars as city maps, road signs and other signage outside schools and clinics are changed.
Councillors recommended to the BCC’s Lands and Planning Committee that “the request by Khumbulani Maphosa for correction of misspelt names for suburbs and streets … be acceded to and Council carries out such an exercise in Bulawayo as and when funds became available for this purpose.”