Think twice about renaming roads

Thursday September 16 2021

City businessman Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige also known as BMK, addresses business owners in September 2018 during the Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies conference in Kampala. PHOTO/STEPHEN OTAGE


Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) councilors tabled a motion to rename one of the city roads after businessman Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige, alias BMK, for his contribution toward the development of the country.

BMK passed on last week leaving behind a business empire stretching across East Africa and some parts of the world. Among his empires is Hotel Africana in Kampala.

The late BMK is certainly worthy of such honours and even more. But there is a reason he did not name his empires after himself. 

And while a person deserving of honour should still get it even if they did not clap for themselves, the idea of renaming city infrastructure has, for a while, been missing a key point.

Recently, some citizens took issues with the marking of Acacia Avenue in Kololo to its original name rather than John Babiiha Avenue after which it had been renamed. 
Other infrastructure such as Owino Market (now St Balikudembe) and Nakivubo Mews (John Ssebana Kizito) have also been renamed.

However, the good intentions of KCCA and other parties who push for renaming of infrastructure is instead contributing to the erosion of our history and cultures. 
There are reasons these infrastructure got the names in the first place and behind such reasons are the little titbits of history that any proud nation should be preserving in posterity.


The argument touted by those in favour of renaming city roads is that most of the original names are foreign. 

But such arguments have never taken away the fact that people after whom these roads are named earned it. 

Most of the people or aspects contributed greatly toward the Uganda we have to today, or are aspects that must be cherished for what they stood for.

When changing names becomes a habit, even the new name will be changed a few decades down the road. KCCA should interest itself in new infrastructure.

There are many public infrastructure sprouting around the country. Naming them after new heros would be good. 

But preserving our history – the bad and good – should be paramount.
KCCA should help preserve history and instead find new homes for new heroes to honour.