Citizens speak on Vic Falls name change

The tourism sector is bound to suffer a major blow if plans to rename Victoria Falls are approved and implemented, citizens have warned.

Patricia Mukoko: “Name change is mere politicking that will cost the country’s thriving industry.”
Patricia Mukoko: “Name change is mere politicking that will cost the country’s thriving industry.”

One of the seven wonders of the world, the falls are also known as Mosi-oa- Tunya, which means the smoke that thunders, They are set to be renamed following proposals at Zanu (PF)’s annual conference in Chinhoyi.

The party’s committee on sports, culture, religion and liberation war heritage proposed that, because the country had attained independence, institutions with colonial names should be changed and named after local heroes.

The chair of the committee, local government minister Ignatius Chombo, said: “Institutions with colonial names must be changed and be given indigenous names, and school syllabuses must also change. Children should be taught about Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Josiah Magama Tongogara and other gallant fighters of our liberation struggle.”

People who spoke to The Zimbabwean said changing the name would impact negatively on the tourism sector and had the potential to reduce the 30,000 visitors who normally came to the resort town every year.

Said Patricia Mukoko from Chitungwiza: “Name change is mere politicking that will cost the country’s thriving industry. As it is, most of the industries are not functioning and we are banking on the tourism sector for some form of economic reprieve.”

Last year, the sector contributed 10 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) on the basis of the 2.5 million arrivals and almost $1bn billion in receipts.

Milliam Mangoi, who is based in South Africa, said because the name was well-known and marketed the world over, changing the name would cost companies that had already invested in the tourism industry.

“Government should consult with the relevant stakeholders before making such huge moves,” said the mother of three, who travelled to the falls with her family during the festive season.

Endrew Chitsunge urged players in the tourism sector to advocate for the use of the existing name Mosi-oa-Tunya.

He argued that there was no need for a complete name change considering the effort invested in marketing the falls over the past century.

“It is a noble idea to name local institutions after local heroes and heroines but not at the expense of the industry,” he said.

Darlington Nyarinde accused Zanu (PF) of seeking political relevance even when it is not necessary: “Why Victoria Falls now? Because it is the only industry that seems to be on the path to recovery? They should all change their English names starting with Ignatius Chombo.”

A Harare-based businessman, who operates a shop in the resort town, said while it was a good idea to rename the Victoria Falls, there was need to consider that tourism relied heavily on perceptions.

“Most of the people who visit the falls do not identify it with history and the younger generation are the most affected,” he said. “There will always be the question of weighing the benefits. Victoria Falls is not equivalent to a road in central Harare, but it is a place that is known internationally. There should be more consultations before such a move is effected.”

Youth to Youth Founder Catherine Masunda commended the initiative and urged the responsible players to promote the use of indigenous languages and names.

She said, because the falls already had an indigenous name, there was need to popularise it, especially among the youths.

“The new generation is quick to adapt. In the same way that young people now appreciate their local music, the name will be familiar and popular among youths in no time, but there is no need to completely change the name from Victoria Falls,” she said.

War veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda revealed that his organisation was advocating for the name change of a number of institutions still recognised by their colonial names, including several schools, among them Queen Elizabeth, Allan Wilson, David Livingstone and Prince Edward. King George Barracks and Rhodes Nyanga National Park are among other places named after British colonialists.

Soon after independence, Zimbabwe changed the names of most major roads.

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