Kenyan lawyers launch campaign to rename Kenyan landmarks with colonial names
London, July 31, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Two Kenyan lawyers have petitioned MPs calling for the renaming – and in some cases the removal – of landmarks that “represent British imperial rule”.
Lake Victoria, Thomson Falls, Abedare are among the sites of natural beauty that Wambugu Wanjohi and Kariuki Karanja say should be given new names “that reflect the progressive cultural identity of Kenyan people” or commemorate “Kenyan heroes”.
“Colonial iconography, symbols [and] monuments” should be removed and replaced with monuments that “promote national values and unity”, they add.
Mr Karanja told the BBC that he and his colleague were inspired by events in other countries where statues glorifying imperialism have been torn down.
They say there is no reason all places with colonial names cannot be renamed – as has happened with Lake Turkana, pictured, previously called Lake Rudolf
The Kenyan lawyers also draw their inspirations from a Cameroonian activist Andre Blaise Essama who has been on a decades-long mission to purge his country of colonial-era symbols, long before the issue came to international prominence in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
His main target has been French World War Two hero Gen Philippe Leclerc in the country’s biggest city, Douala.
“I have decapitated Leclerc’s head seven times and toppled the statue at least 20 times,” Mr Essama told the BBC.
“I use my bare hands… but I make an incantation to the ancestors first,” he said.
His aim is to replace them with Cameroonian and other African heroes, but he will make an exception for those who campaigned for “the good of humanity”.
He is especially keen on erecting a statue of Diana, the late Princess of Wales.
“Diana was against racism and she stood for humanity. We loved her here in Cameroon,” Mr Essama said.
Mr Essama has also targeted a statue of Gustav Nachtigal, who arrived in Cameroon in 1884 to establish a German empire.