panganai nzira.jpg

By Panganai Nzira

 

A few years ago residents of what is now called Westlea caused a furore when they mocked and eventually snubbed the recommendation to use the name Warren Park North for the new suburb. They snubbed it on the grounds that it demeaned their high status and the choice of the name Westlea confirmed their craving for recognition as upper class residents.

 

 

high school students.jpgFUSH is an acronym that according to a certain search engine means “First United School of Hooligans”. Those that were students of Ellis Robins High School in Harare will tell you with pride and nostalgia that they learnt at FUSH. But why call it a FUSH? The question is, what is it in a name? 

 

The issue of names is really a contested issue around the globe and it brings with it ideology, power and status.

 

In 2006, a South African group named the Azanian Youth Organisation called for a “mass action campaign” to ensure that South Africa is renamed Azania, as this would be critical in nation-building and would go a long way in creating a positive national identity.

 

Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa is named after a Boer and white capitalist, Andries Pretorius. News that Pretoria was going to be renamed Tshwane provoked outrage from Afrikaner civil rights and political groups. The debate over the name change even spilled to the media, with one media house saying it should not really matter whether Pretoria is Pretoria or Tshwane.

 

So what is the status as of today? Is Pretoria Pretoria or Tshwane?

 

In Harare, the road Samora Machel used to be Jameson Avenue during the racist Ian Smith era.

 

What has become of the 2002 directive to rename schools with colonial names with indigenous ones reflecting the country’s national identity? According to a February 2002 Report On School Names, Prince Edward High should be known as  Murenga Boys’ High; named after the Njelele High Spirit that instigated and directed the first Liberation War, 1896-97); Allan Wilson High, Mutapa Boys High (named after the founding father of the glorious Mutapa Empire); Churchill High called Josiah Tongogara High (national hero); David Livingstone Jr named Guy Clutton-Brock Primary (national hero) and Cecil John Rhodes School should be Gweru Primary School (name of town).

 

When the then Minister of Education, Cde Aeneas Chigwedere made the announcement, the news was viewed with mixed perceptions amongst ordinary Zimbabweans, students and parents. Some dismissed it as mere politicking, while others viewed it as a noble cause and move towards reflecting national identity.

 

mbuya nehanda and sekuru kaguvi.jpgSome received it with murmuring and one could attribute the perceptions to ignorance, arrogance, knowledge deficiency and westernisation.

 

Some schools protested to the renaming as they clung to their old names that today still remind many of the Rhodesian era and white superiority. 

 

It is said the hapless Catholic priest failed to make headway with Mbuya Nehanda, but managed to convert Sekuru Gumboreshumba whom he contemptuously baptised as Dismas, meaning the “good” thief. What kind of treachery and hypocrisy on that part of white Rhodesians who failed to adhere to sacred Christian principles of love and harmony, yet they claimed to be paragons of Christian virtues?

 

 

caps utd fc.jpgThe acrimony that almost led to fistfights and taekwondo amongst members of the CAPS United family was centered on the use of a name. The battle spilled to the courts as the contentious issue over who has legal right to a name deepened.

 

 Lawyers, prosecutors, complainants, defendants, general staff of courts and all supporting actors were united in differences as they had a common denominator to their routine, a name. They came to work to resolve the issue of a name. Just a name.

 

The mention of Phillip chiyangwa.jpgChiyangwa brings with it flamboyance and extravagance to some. However to others, his story is a lecture in perseverance and determination. Typical rags to riches story. But, why one of his imported luxury cars is called Tsivo and not any other name is interesting.

 

mohammad ali in action.jpgOne of the greatest heavyweight boxer to be on planet earth is Muhammad Ali. Nicknamed ‘The Greatest’, Ali suffered only five

losses (four decisions and one technical knock out by retirement from the bout) with no draws in his career, while amassing 56 wins (37 knockouts and 19 decisions).

 

Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, which he described as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, and employing techniques such as the rope-a- rope. Originally known as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Muhammad Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, subsequently converting to Sunni Islam in 1975 and more recently to Sufism.

 

eminem.jpgUnited States artist and sometimes weird and bizarre character, Eminem’s real name is Marshal Bruce Mathers III, while Ice Cube is called Oshea Jackson. Ja Rule is also known as Jeffery Atkins.

 

There are commuter omnibuses that have made headlines in the rumour mill in Harare for weird instances. One such is called Transporter.

 

It was on Monday and I was coming form town aboard a commuter omnibus (not Transporter) and I settled myself nicely at the backseat, sandwiched between a man clad in shabby security guard attire and a young lady who was wrapped in linen that explicitly exposed an artistic expression of her body structure and texture.

 

As the kombi passed by the Kukura Kurerwa transport bus stop enruote to the high density suburb of Glen View, another passenger

bellowed to the conductor in his ‘masese’ laced voice that he wanted to be dropped at Afgate bus stop.

 

To those that have worked for years in the Willovale industrial area and deserve to be accorded eldership status, Afgate firm is no longer situated in the Willowvale area but it has since moved. So why is it still called Afgate bus stop?

 

Have you ever wondered why a shopping centre in Glen View area is called Tichazi? There must be a reason a presume.

 

Then it was time for self introspection and I took my parents to the question-and answer desk. I cross-examined them on why and how I came to be called Panganai. This was not because I smelled a rate over the name after succumbing to fast-paced gospel sermons on generational curses associated with names or that I had a bone to chew with them. It was just purely another session of self discovery and my mother and father had to provide answers. Interesting it was and interesting it will be if dear reader dares it.

 

I fired my parents with blunt and open ended questions and the two succumbed to their son-cum-barrister. Word has it that when I was born my parents settled for the name Tichaona whilst at the hospital. This immediately reminds me of  a colleague who recently gave birth to a bouncing beautiful baby boy and the parents, the father to be precise, jokingly said ‘mazita acho kupfekerana kunge hembe.’ This was in apparent reference to the names Kutenda,Tariroyashe and Yovel. All these names for an individual.

 

That is the story of a colleague. Now let me just finish the interrogation. When my parents went home to the rural homes of Rusape they were met with ecstasy and ululations on the birth of a baby boy. Word has it that the name Tichaona was set up for evaluation and words of wisdom from my grandparents were solicited and my grandmother vetoed the name and I was named Panganai, ironically the name of her husband, my grandfather. And here I am, stuck with the name Panganai.

 

And all this left me with one question. What’s in a name?