Renaming cities and highways in SVG
Man ah remember back in de 70s de period of Black Awareness. One ah de complaints was names. Was like everybody wid de slightest drop ah Afro Roots, was complaining bout de white-man’s name dey parents gave dem. De talk was de white-man names doh mean nothing, and dey wanted names after dey African ancestry, de Mother Country. We began to see names like Kojo, dat means Monday born; Kwami – Sat-dey born; Ayana – beautiful blossom; Jomo – ‘Joy of missing out’, Shivambu – gift of God, names dat came straight from de Mother Country. Ah left me name right as it was: “ Bassy,” meaning “Bright’n’ Beautiful!” Ah did give some thoughts to changing it to Obasi; dat’s ah name given to ah first born child, which I am.
But back in dem days de high point at ah Sunday morning Church Service was christening. Church nearly broke down when de R.C Priest couldn’t pronounce de name on the certificate, so he spelt it out: “Ogechulwukama”. Same time de godmother shouted: “We go call him Kama foh shortness, Father” But dat name had greatness all over, it meant “greatest of God’s times!”
Basically, though, de Black Conscious Movement was saying dat if we were to move out of Colon-yell-is-him we got to start dealing with de small details, like naming of places, towns, streets and our children. Man in every household dey was ah boy child name after ah King: Top on de list would be King Arthur (Williams), may his soul rest peacefully. And den King George, Henry, Arthur, David; same foh de females, Queen Victoria, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine. My near-bah’s village name was Jean, but at her funral we learnt dat she was Margaret and Elizabeth, de queen and her sister.
But de changes are coming, slowly. We still have Victoria Park, but George V Playing Field is now Arnos Vale. Georgetown could ah bin Sugar Town, but we killed de cane, molasses and de sugar wid one industrial strike. Ah note de Pry-minister sounding early warning, and rightly so, dat all dem names dat continue to cloud our minds wid de Colon-yell past should go. Ah guess Murray’s Village way ah was born dat was named after Governor Murray will soon be up foh change. And so too would be Colon-arie, de village in which de PM was born, dat will have to go. Colon-arie, as de name connotates, is Colon-yell. Lie-Za is recommending early dat Colon-arie be renamed after de PM. She suggests replacing Colon wid Gon or Gons, so it’s either Ralph Gon-arie City or Ralph Gons-arie City.
MANDELA HIGHWAY AND CHATOYER PARK
Jah-mek-her beat us to it… dey got ah Nelson Mandela Highway. But ah have one lickle problem wid de renaming of de Leeward Highway, de Nelson Mandela Highway. Ah feel Mandela Highway is good enough. Forget bout Nelson, he is ah Colon-yell Hero. Bo-bathe-us got rid ah Nelson Square long time, way he name doing pon ah Highway in SVG.
De I-dear of creating ah Nah-shun-all Park in honour of His Excellency Joseph Chatoyer is One-dah-full, but nobody wid de slightest knowledge of de history of de Rabacca River, wid its many tributaries and crazy life-style of changing its mind and direct-shun, will put ah Nah-shun-all Park between two tributaries within the Rabacca River Banks, one to de north and one to de south, both parallel to each other. Ah will presumptuously say dat de decision lacked vision and foresight, do0h be surprised if one morning we wake up to ah Joseph Chatoyer Nah-shun-all Aquarium. And wid dat is gone ah gone again,
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.