Thank you for allowing me space in your newspaper, to air my views regarding the above subject matter for the benefit of members of the public at large. My article has been prompted by earlier comments from various responsible members of the public who were against the recent naming of a Gaborone City suburb in Block 7 as “DITIMAMODIMO”. I sincerely sympathize, fully agree and support all those who felt that this derogatory name has nothing to excite if any, the residents of this beautiful location. Instead, the name is a curse, and residents are very correct to collectively demand its immediate removal.
This location surely deserves a much better name for the reason it also hosts two University Colleges, Limkokwing University of Creative Arts and Ba Isago Distance Learning University. There is also the big Good News Bible Church and many other beautiful notable developments just to name a few. Much as I have great respect for our national facilities naming officers or whatever they are called, I do however doubt their integrity and ability to do this job. They always seem behind developments every time. Just how do you construct a facility without the name? Be it a road, street, location, dam, school or whatever. Besides the obvious fact that this committee seems to lack public consultations, a true trademark of democracy and public fairness, at least in towns and cities, they completely lack both creativity and innovation. I doubt if consulted, the residents and students from the two local universities of Block 7 could have come up with such a derogatory name like “DITIMAMODIMO”.
Consultation is very important more especially when what one does or is charged to do shall impact on the lives of people of any given area. Simply consult the people or call for public contributions for the possible names of their streets and locations they would like to be associated with. At a time when government is campaigning to have our children given decent names they would be proud of in future, another government department goes ahead with such funny, palatable, or otherwise very derogatory names for public places. It’s a pure scenario of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.
Public consultations should enable the naming committee, to have the widest selection list or public names library bank from which to choose any time they need to name a new street, road or location. Contributions for street and location names should come from all members of the public, both young and elderly.
One of the major purposes for street and location names is to preserve national unity and coercion, the history and culture of the nation. Besides the importance of being used for direction and reference, street and location names can do wonders to foster and preserve peace and national unity, history and culture. A good example is found in many countries, but notably in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Being the headquarters of the African Union, Ethiopia found it befitting to name some of their roads and streets after every African country for all the 54 member states of the African Union, a true reflection and preservation of African unity. In Addis Ababa, you will find a street named after Botswana, Namibia,Angola, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Congo, Burundi, Kenya, South Africa, Lesotho, Swazilland, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and so forth, for all and each of the 54 member states of Africa, who together make up the African Union.
In Botswana, it is easy to adopt such good ideas in naming our streets, roads and locations had our Naming committee been creative enough. To enhance and preserve our national unity, it could be a very wise idea to name streets, roads and locations in towns and cities after the names of our villages scattered all over our vast country. What is wrong with naming a new location ‘Molapowabojang’, rather than ‘Ditimamodimo’? Or naming a street Mosojane Way, Molepolole Way, and so forth, rather than ‘Khudumatse road’? This is pure common sense, creativity is nothing but common sense, which seems very scarce amongst our street naming officials.
In general, we have a very serious challenge in naming our streets and locations. This results in such planning names like Block 5, Block 3, Block 7, Block 9, BKT, Phase 1,2,4 and so forth, remaining in place for years until everyone end up getting so used to the names in such a way that when the real name finally comes, it becomes difficult for people to adjust to it. This should be a wake-up call to the Public Naming Committee to up their game and speed up naming of our new streets and locations.
Why not copy or learn from private developers? All major private developments have names long even before such project construction begins. Think of Game City, Riverwalk, Molapo Crossing, Setloa, Sebele Mall, Rail Mall, Airport Junction, Gallo Mall, Nswazwi Mall, and so forth, whose real names were in existence long before construction could even start. But had all these been government developments, we could still be calling them with planning names like Extension 10, 12, 16, 21, or Block 22,33 and so forth.
Thus most streets in our towns and cities have very funny names, which in most cases have no meaning at all to the people and their surroundings. Why not try to honor fauna and flora, conservation and environment, by naming some of our streets and locations after various endangered species of both animals, bird life, and tree plants? Locations and streets can be named Tsukudu, Tlou, Kwena, Kori, Lingau, Tau, Nare,Phiri,Thuthwa, Mokwepa,Phokoje,Ntshe, Phoi, Nkwe, Tshepe, Mowana, Sengaparile, Takadu,Tlhapi,Mopane, Phane,Pitseyanaga, Kolobeyanaga,Tlhware,Tshepe,Lenong, and so forth. In this way, even future generations may get to know and appreciate nature conservation efforts at an early age, they will know we were so serious about nature conservation to the extent we named some of our facilities after most of the endangered and protected wildlife species of animals, fish, birds and plants. And in this way, they are likely to continue our legacy on conservation of nature and natural resources.
In the modern era of high-tech Google and the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), one is able to view any street in the world, from wherever they may be, just from a touch of a button. But then, in a situation like ours where we still have lots of streets ,roads and locations, staying for more than 30 years without names, it’s impossible for the locals to benefit fully from the modern Google and GPS technology. The challenge being the slowness or simply the don’t care attitude of the National Naming Committee, who seem to be doing more of a voluntary assignment than their normal job which they are paid for.
My sincere apology if members of the National Naming Committee are doing voluntary job. If they are paid for the job they might as well all resign for waste of public funds. They are failing us as a nation, and I am afraid we shall celebrate 50th Independence Anniversary on streets without names. Perhaps they are now too old, but then let’s not bother the elderly people, just give the job to the more energetic youth and the private sector. Government has several facilities without names, and some of these are,the building that houses the Ministry of Home Affairs, Education and Skills Development, Wildlife,Health, Attorney General Chambers ,and so forth. Why not name education ministry building “Thuto House”, and Health ministry building “Botsogo House”? In contrast learn from the private sector nearby, you have Orapa House, Poso House, Megaleng House, Botsalano House, Tsholetsa House, and so forth.
In conclusion, let me give a practical example of an Industrial area in Mogoditshane called Nkoyaphiri Industrial. The first plots in this area were allocated as early as 1997. The industrial area has roads but of course, as a natural rule, no street lights to protect night shift workers. All roads and streets have no names. Found in this Industrial area is several prominent local and foreign companies amongst them some of the international diamond cutting and polishing industries. We also have Nkoyaphiri Mall and the Mogo-Thamaga Sub-District headquarters with the District Commissioner’s offices in the same vicinity.
Although it’s all business as usual, more especially to the Council and the DC, for the business owners, it is both very stupid and embarrassing to run a business from an area which does not have street names or road names. Most suppliers of these businesses are in Europe and the far East Asia and India, and one has to always convince these suppliers that indeed the business exists, because to them when a business has no street name address, it simply does not exist. Our businesses are treated as fake and with a lot of suspicion by suppliers in Europe and elsewhere, merely for the very reason that the business location has no street names, an assignment that does not belong to business people but authorities above.
Several requests to council officials for street names and street lights have met deaf ears, from employees who seem more concerned and content about just being present in the village without caring much about their surroundings or the general welfare of the people and developments around them. They don’t even know whose responsibility it is to name streets and roads, nor the department that does so. Please, whoever is responsible, save us from gross embarrassment of celebrating our 50th Anniversary from an industrial area without street names. And why have a street if you can’t give it reference name?
As a natural rule, the most important things in life are free, hence my desire to present my creative suggestion ideas at completely no costs at all. These creative ideas are not patented, and anyone is absolutely free to copy and implement them without any need to credit me.
FIDELIS MAFIDE NCUBE.