Kenyatta path in Nairobi is named after Kenya’s self-reliance leader, ‘Mzee’ Jomo Kenyetta. Under British early american rule, the street to be originally dubbed Sixty Avenue, then renamed lord Delamere way in 1932 complying with the death of mr Delamere in honour that the white settler and colonial administrator. The 4 streets that branch off Kenyatta Avenue likewise took your names from colonial commissioners. Complying with independence, these too were renamed. Indigenous the collection Museum of the transformation by male Tillim / VU Agency

What’s in a name?

Not much from whereby my brother lives in phibìc London’s east Finchley neighbourhood is a street dubbed Kitchener Road. I had spotted it by chance: a newish sign of black letters printed on a white metal sheet and affixed to a lamp post. Simply behind the desk lamp post, screwed into the brickwork over a Turkish cafe, was a lot older sign, do of special iron, bearing the very same name.

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To name a street ~ a person is a universally accepted method of publicly honouring the person’s achievements. The two indicators on Kitchener Road, one old and also one new, it seems to be ~ a clean indication the this individual has actually once been honoured and is tho deserving of windy recognition.

Street names help us figure out whereby we are, talk around where we’ve been, and ascertain even if it is we’re heading in the right direction. This is of food true both literally and figuratively. Name such as 125th Street or West side Highway are purely descriptive; they express the geographical location of the thoroughfare. But much more often than not, roadways take their names from people, places, occasions or things, in these instances situating us not just geographically but additionally politically, socially, historically. As such, Kitchener roadway reminded me that Britain’s long and brutal history of early american domination.

To say that street names space a physical marker of background is to invite 2 critiques. The very first is the this is all much ado around nothing; the street names don’t really matter. The 2nd is that any type of calls to readjust these names is come “erase history”, one erasure i beg your pardon – to those that argue this point – is as bad as the acts the indications commemorate. Possibly we should think about the evidence.


Monty Naicker roadway in Durban is named after Gangathura Mohambry ‘Monty’ Naicker (1910 - 1978) a clinical doctor and a southern African anti-apartheid activist the Indian Tamil descent. Before that that was dubbed Pine Street, most likely after Benjamin Pine, who was Lieutenant-Governor that Natal Colony, whereby the Zulu people led a long and also fierce resistance come occupation. From the collection Museum the the revolution by guy Tillim / VU company

Horatio Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) to be a notoriously brutal military officer that the british Empire, working across Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, southern Africa, and also India. During the second Read an ext about the conflict that lasted indigenous 1899 come 1902."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-sidenote-contents-0eb2a733-1280-4de9-a15d-0dfa4d4eabf1">Anglo-Boer War,Read an ext about the dispute that lasted native 1899 come 1902. Mr Kitchener, who took end the war effort in 1900, innovated a three-fold strategy that had burning homesteads to the ground and also keeping big numbers of civilization – both black and also white – in concentration camps. Source:BBC History."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-infocard-contents-fbf80bd1-403c-4d7a-bdcb-e1ac3d794b4f">48,000 human being are recorded to have passed away in these camps.

The commemoration v street name of people who have actually been responsible because that killing, dehumanising and also exploiting rather is a powerful way to keep a celebratory see of early american history

The Irish-born, Swiss-educated soldier, that was additionally known together Earl Kitchener of Khartoum, is One an especially celebratory headline can be uncovered on the War history Online site."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-sidenote-contents-cc675f61-4567-4c64-a7b1-fb806ec0f340">more fondly rememberedOne specifically celebratory headline have the right to be discovered on the War history Online site. For his role in annihilating anticolonial pressures in Sudan, killing 10s of thousands at the fight of Omdurman in 1898. He celebrated his win by dynamiting the tomb of the revered spiritual leader Muhammad Ahmad (known as the Mahdi). Kitchener had the Mahdi’s skeletal thrown into the Nile. British element minister, Winston Churchill, that as a young officer had been a part of the same campaign, Source:Gutenberg."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-infocard-contents-7af3b562-af7c-4888-a87b-5f74a95a7f6d">wrote in his book, My beforehand Life, the Kitchener “had lugged off the Mahdi’s head in a kerosene deserve to as a trophy”. This is the guy whose name has actually been unending imprinted across the map of modern-day Britain. In London alone, there space at the very least five various residential Kitchener Roads. 

Britain is no alone in these acts the commemoration that casually sidestep the brutal truth of countless of the human being honoured in this way. In Belgium you will certainly find countless streets, such together Boulevard Leopold II, named for Unlike various other European colonisers, Leopold make the Congo his personal property between 1885 and also 1908. Read an ext here.Read an ext here."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-infocard-contents-0c24f855-2936-47f1-b460-e6d861d8768e">the Belgian king that personally owned the Congo cost-free State (1885-1908) and also was Source:the UK Independent."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-infocard-contents-30f2a0f0-8f01-427c-ad78-85ef9770c7bf">responsible for the deaths of approximately 15 million human being while accruing substantial wealth through the production of rubber.

Unlike King Leopold II, Kitchener’s face is as well known in Britain together his name. Watch the illustration here."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-sidenote-contents-2755fc68-516c-4895-a662-c175ab3a7c7a">An illustration for the London Opinion magazineSee the illustration here. That his glowering, pointing, more thick mustachioed face and pointed finger, demanding guys to enlist during the very first world war has become one the the best-known recruitment posters. This picture is openly reproduced in ~ the iconography that British colonial nostalgia Restaurants, fashion and film seemed to attract wistful impetus from Britain's colonial era.Guardian functions writer Stuart Jeffries wrote around the trend."aria-expanded="false"aria-controls="contentitem-infocard-contents-474a11fa-7789-45e3-89a3-5542c9b81414">(a booming industry), and Kitchener remains the embodiment that jingoistic masculinity. 

In fact, Kitchener has actually been therefore deeply installed in British social memory that his name renders an figure in the most unlikely that places. Knitters may choose to usage the Kitchener Stitch, which ns am said is the optimal way to graft or sign up with stitches, an especially at the toe that a sock. Apparently Kitchener insisted top top this stitch in bespeak to alleviate chafing, and therefore the risk of trench foot, amongst his troops.

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One human who taken perfectly well the powerful significance of streets and naming techniques was Kitchener himself. Drawing up plans because that Sudan’s resources city, Khartoum, in 1898, he named a main thoroughfare Victoria avenue in honour the his queen. Not just that, yet Kitchener instructed officials to design a net pattern for Khartoum’s streets that to be arranged in a Union Jack pattern that reproduced unmistakably the triangular shapes of the british flag. That crude item of imperialist metropolitan planning survives in Khartoum today.