Reconcile Street Names

As controversy deepens in Amanzimtoti over naming a street for an MK operative, ANC councillor Frank Horn says that people of all persuasions should come to a compromise that suits everyone…

“’Tis but thy name that is my enemy” The words ascribed to Juliet in the Shakespearian play. In the same script Romeo is informed by his love that names do not define the person by upholding: “What’s in a name?”.

The feud that plagued the couple’s families placed so much strain on their relationship which, as we all know, led to the couple’s self-inflicted fatality. It was this tragedy that facilitated the reconciliation of the families Montague and Capulet.

With a little imagination this work by William Shakespeare could serve as an analogy of the Andrew Zondo versus Kingsway road naming saga in Amanzimtoti and surrounds.

Amanzimtoti’s analogous romantic couple would be the pro Andrew Zondo and pro Kingsway citizens of our region. Our version of the feuding families will be our politicians of all persuasions. The spiritual leaders of our town would represent Friar Laurence as they should be involved in the road naming quarrel to seek and facilitate reconciliation in the wrangle, maybe not with similar errors, but at least with the same level of passion the friar had for peace to prevail in Verona.

It was too late for the Montagues and Capulets to intervene in the misfortune of their children and it would appear all our local politicians are following a similar path of a non-alignment charade on the subject of street names.

When any local political figure is confronted with a question relating to this controversial matter, they without exception state it is a very sensitive topic and consider it best left alone. That this is a volatile situation is not disputed but I challenge the local political leaders of all affiliations to have the courage to discard their fears of losing party votes in 2014 and seek an amicable solution. The politicians, albeit with pretentiousness and for the wrong reasons, are correct for not aligning with either group. It is not about a simple choice of a name but an acute emotional mind-set on either side of the divide. These politicians are observing the battle from the grand stand of the political arena safe from the dust of the conflict and God alone knows what the religious leaders are doing about it.

The similar green colour used in various parts of Durban including Amanzimtoti to deface street names is indicative of an orchestrated effort. It appears unlikely to be the work of people from our area. This identical colour was recently used in the Umbilo and Glenwood area to vandalize signs.

We do not need a winner in this dispute but rather an acceptance of a result emanating from all views and opinions on the subject.

What the leaders fail to realise is that we have fundamentalists on both sides of the naming fence that makes the situation explosive. We have the pro Zondo extremists seeking rigorous and in some instances even militant action against those defacing the new name boards. On the other end we have Kingsway activist taking the law into their own hands by spraying paint over the new names and even replacing the new name with the old. We have responsible and respected citizens of Amanzimtoti that go so far as to condone publicly the lawlessness of removing, replacing or defacing of the road names.

Allow me to personalize this for a moment; I personally, would prefer to see the return of the previous Gardiner Street in Durban. No disrespect intended to the struggle hero Dorothy Nyembe after whom the street is now named. In his autobiography; “Let My People go” Chief Albert Luthuli’s refers to Captain Allen Francis Gardiner as an Induna of the Durban settlement and recognized as such by Dingane kaSenzangakhona the inkosi of the time.

As in any situation of this nature humour assists us in surviving the frustration. I am sure the town’s history educators are chuffed with the dispute as a number of Amanzimtoti folk now know why the road was named Kingsway in the first place and also had to be told who Andrew Zondo was.

I am not trivializing the tragedies of the then Sanlam Centre as I actually discussed the dispute with a relative one of the bomb victims who also seeks closure on the matter. Nor would I gain any pleasure in the cruel punishment by death of a man under orders, found guilty of murder, without access to a capable defence team to revert his trial to a possible life sentence.

I call on local and regional political party leaders to step forward and not shy away from a serious responsibility. It was too late for Romeo and Juliet to witness the settling of the dispute between their families but we still have time.