WELCOME TO LITTLE ENGLAND AS STREET NAMES SPLIT CITY NEIGHBOURHOOD . . . Westgate’s row over street names . . . Some say local names will devalue their surburb

Latwell Nyangu

ITS critics have dubbed it “Little England” while its backers have said it’s part of their identity which highlights the difference between the neighbourhood and high-density suburbs, but what was once a united community has been split by street names.

Welcome to Westgate Area D in Harare.

The beautiful houses are hiding a vicious community split that has been sparked by differences over how they should name their streets.

On one side you have the majority who want all their streets to have English names.

On the other hand you have those, who are in the minority, who have been pushing for some Shona or Ndebele names to be included in the package of the street names.

The latter have lost the battle as the community, using an overwhelming majority, have settled for the English names.

Harare City Council has approved the new street names.

The chosen street names are Raven Road, Grand Close, Durata Road, Temple Road, Melrose Road, Bath Drive, Orange Drive, Creek Close, Salmon Road, Teak Close, Earl Street, Litch Road, Eland Close, Hill Close, Rock Street, Peal Road and Tasker Road.

Until now, the Westgate Area D neighbourhood hasn’t had any official street names.

It used to be part of the Old Mutual property portfolio in Westgate and people began to buy stands and build houses in the ‘90s.

The residents created a WhatsApp group where they debated the preferred names of their neighbourhood’s streets and, inevitably, there were protests from some residents who were not happy that all the names had an English ring to them.

They proposed that they also wanted African names, especially Shona and Ndebele names but they were in the minority.

The majority won the power battle about two years ago and last week, it was announced that council had approved the street names.

“The feeling among some of the residents was that the preferred names were too European and there was need to retain even a bit of our identity as Africans and have some Ndebele and Shona names,” said a resident, who chose not to be named.

“They argued that if we go to a European city, let’s say London, we are unlikely to have an entire neighbourhood whose street names are like Shungu, Chapungu, Mzilikazi, to name but a few.

“Some also said places like Mandara and Chisipite have local names and their value has not been reduced by their names.

“But, these guys were in the minority but the majority said they wanted their street names to be different from those that are found in the high-density areas so that it could be shown that there is a difference between Westgate and let’s say Mufakose or Mbare.

“The majority won.”

Naboth Machemedze, a resident who is said to have been in charge of coordinating the street names, told H-Metro he had other commitments to comment over the issue.

“Let’s talk about this sometime since I am getting into a strategic meeting.”

Ward 41 Councillor Kudzai Kadzombe said it was the duty of council to approve what would have been recommended as long it was within the template of what is required.

Pamutemo, it is the right of the owners of the property to choose the names they want.

“As council, we simply give them what is required and they suggest the names, we then approve.

“They set up a committee, which then recommends the names, and forwards them to us. It’s their right as property owners.

“Some said if they give the local names, or Shona names, it will reduce the value of the suburb.

“For example, having a street name like Mupuranga, they felt it can reduce the value of the place just like a high-density area.

“I have seen some platforms where there is debate around this. This is an issue of interest and we see how it goes.”

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