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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


MANATSHA, Boga Thura. The politics of renaming "colonial" streets in Francistown, Botswana. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp.269-288. ISSN 2309-8392.

Francistown is located in the North East district (part of the former Tati district) in Botswana. It was "founded" in 1897 by Daniel Francis, an English prospector and the first director of the Tati Concessions (today called the Tati Company). The Tati Concessions administered the Tati district like a colony within a protectorate after annexing and effectively colonising it in the 1880s. It was not until 1969 that the company eased its total control over Francistown owing to pressure from the pan-Africanist Botswana People's Party formed in 1960. A former settler city, Francistown's street names replicate a typical European city. Since 2008, there has been pressure, mainly from councillors in the Francistown City Council, to change the city's name, rename colonial streets and some public buildings after local "heroes and heroines". In February 2011, the city's full council finally passed a motion to rename colonial streets. The proposed names are of politicians (some departed, others still alive). The initiative has not yet been executed, but the discussions and the so-called consultations are ongoing. The article examines and situates this initiative within a historical and political context, showing how politicians are manipulating this "noble" initiative by using their power and authority.

Keywords : Francistown; Botswana; street naming; politics of identity; Daniel Francis.

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