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The British High Commission in Maputo is on Avenida Vladimir Lenin, and I'm told that the Brits at one point tried to get the Mozambican government to rename just their block after Winston Churchill, but to no avail.
Maputo is, as far as I know, the only place outside North Korea with a street named after Kim Jong Il.
A few years ago, Zimbabwe decided to rename a street in honor of then-Namibian President Sam Nujoma. That's all fine and dandy, Nujoma was one of Robert Mugabe's staunchest supporters, but also a legitimate African revolutionary icon in his own right. It did not suprise me that Harare would have a Sam Nujoma Street. (Windhoek already had a Robert Mugabe Avenue, and Harare has lots of other streets named after Zimbabwean liberation heros and other African struggle icons, including Samora Machel and Nelson Mandela.)
The strange thing was which street they chose to rename -- Second Street. The numbered streets now jump from First to Third, with Sam Nujoma in the middle. And yet Harare, for all Mugabe's anti-British, anti-colonial bluster, still has a Prince Edward Street.
Is it me, or is that weird?
(NB: a friend who's a philosophy professor filled me in on who Leibniz was....)
There are, naturally, a number of main roads named after Namibian heroes from the anti-colonial and independence struggles: Hosea Kutako Drive, Hendrik Witbooi Drive, and of course Sam Nujoma Drive.
A few major roads are named after foreigners: Robert Mugabe Avenue intersects with both Nelson Mandela Avenue and Fidel Castro Street. Way on the other side of town is Mahatma Gandhi Street. And Laurent Desire Kabila is in the opposite direction. Hmmm. That has to mean something.
But the neighborhoods are where the street names get really interesting. There are plenty of German and Afrikaans names that mean little or nothing to me. But then you start to see themes...
One neighborhood has streets named after composers: Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Puccini, Mahler, Bach.
An area nearby has constellations and celestial bodies: Aries, Hercules, Taurus, Libra, Hydra, Mercury, Andromeda, Perseus.
There's the obligatory African-game neighborhood, with Eland, Gnu, Springbok, Impala and Eland streets. Then there's a different kind of game a little further south, where Eland meets Rugby Street, which intersects with Cricket, Netball and Softball streets.
The first street-theme I noticed was in a neighborhood called Academia, near the university campus. The streets of Academia are all named after philosophers, although I have to confess that I don't recognize them all. Leibniz? Who's that?
I spent a few minutes trying to figure out if there was some kind of grand theory behind the street plan. Is there a reason why Darwin intersects with Plato and Aristotle but not with Locke or Aquinas? Aquinas meets Sartre but not Voltaire. Socrates ends at Bacon. Plato turns into Jasper somewhere. Hume is nowhere near Hegel.
I can't make any sense out of it.
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