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Place names in Zimbabwe

From Academic Kids

Following independence in 1980, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) began renaming cities, towns and streets, in an attempt to eradicate symbols of British colonialism and white minority rule, starting in 1982, on the second anniversary of independence. The capital Salisbury, which had been named after the British Prime Minister, the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, was renamed Harare, after the Shona chief Neharawa. Other place names were simply new transliterations, to reflect the correct African pronunciation, hence Gwelo became Gweru.

New names from 1982 (Pre-1982 names in italics).

Salisbury - Harare
Gatooma - Kadoma
Que Que - Kwekwe
Wankie - Hwange
Umtali - Mutare
Fort Victoria - Masvingo
Essexvale - Esigodini
Selukwe - Shurugwi
Hartley - Chegutu
Enkeldoorn - Chivhu
Melsetter - Chimanimani
Gwelo - Gweru
Sinoia - Chinhoyi
Shabani - Zvishavane
Marandellas - Marondera
Matopos - Matobo

The country's second largest city, Bulawayo was unaffected, as were the towns of Beitbridge, Colleen Bawn and West Nicholson, despite their European origins. The names of suburbs in Harare, such as Borrowdale, Rotten Row, Rietfontein, Tynwald, and Mount Pleasant also remained unchanged. An exception was Harari, which was renamed Mbare.

Street names were also changed, with names of British colonists such as Cecil Rhodes being replaced with those of Zimbabwean nationalist leaders, such as Josia Tongogara, Simon Muzenda, and Leopold Takawira, as well as Robert Mugabe, whose name appears on street signs as frequently as that of Rhodes once did. Other streets have been named after leaders of neighbouring countries, such as Samora Machel of Mozambique, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Nelson Mandela of South Africa. Others have a general pan-African nationalist theme, such as Africa Unity Square, formerly Cecil Square.

While these changes have had general acceptance, except among some whites, a more controversial practice has been the recent renaming of schools after Robert Mugabe, prompting accusations of a personality cult.

Confusingly, the name of the country was also changed twice, firstly from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe Rhodesia, then to Zimbabwe.

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