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Just what is Los Angeles about Los Angeles Boulevard in Lusaka, one would ask? Nothing, absolutely nothing I would say. And yet that’s the name we chose to give one of our major roads in our capital.

 

What is Cairo about Cairo Road another would inquire? I guess Kaunda and compatriots knew something we did not otherwise, nothing; absolutely nothing I would say … the list of names in our towns is endless.

 

I grew up on a street called Lwanginga and I was very proud of it. Up to now I don’t know what Lwanginga means but it is African enough and I guess my grand father would know its meaning if I asked.

 

But the business of naming streets, installations and things after foreign entities and such is a real menace that needs to be seriously addressed because every nation has a culture that has to be preserved for future generations.

 

They say when a nation or a people lose its culture, it loses its destiny and whether that has proven historical significance is another matter for a different debate. But if the slightest of that supposition holds any water then, we in the Zambian Enterprise are at risk of losing our own identity.

 

I once asked my grand father as to why we all seemed to have first names that were mainly British. He told me that it all started with the missionaries when they came over to spread the Good News.

 

Whenever they had converts they would ask the parents the names or even the convert(s) themselves what their name(s) meant. One would say, I am Mwaba Mulenga and they would ask what each of those names meant.

 

Well, Mwaba means I am. The Padre would then say, no we can’t call you “I am” because there’s only one I am so your new baptismal name is say Levy, Daniel, Josh or John. Mulenga means creature, or a created thing. Then they would say, great they could live with that!

 

Unlike our fellow African Americans who inherited names from their slave owners, our names were more baptismal and in most instants, they were not even British at all because Levy, Josh, Daniel and John are actually Jewish names.

 

I know many of you wonder about my crazy first name “Brainwave” because this one is really not Jewish, well that’s another topic all together. You know it’s entirely my father’s fault but I love him all the same … JJ

 

But this business of naming Los Angeles Boulevard in the middle of Lusaka must stop; we never had any lost or fallen angels in Lusaka at all. In fact, we need to rename it to something like Alice Lenshina Boulevard.

 

When our children and children’s children ask us who Alice Lenshina was, we would be able to explain how this woman almost caused a civil in Zambia. We would tell them that since independence Zambia has been a peaceful nation and the only time we had people die en masse close to 1,500 was during the Lenshina Uprising.

 

Or look for another fallen hero such as Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and tell our children that he was the first Zambian to head an opposition party. In fact his part was the first to start fighting colonialism, things like that.

 

Keep it simple, keep it explainable and keep it Zambian and that’s this week’s memo from us at the Zambian Chronicles … thanks a trillion.

 

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO  & President – Zambian Chronicle

 

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