In the ancient days places were named after something significant occurred or as result of a comment made by a prominent traditional leader.
For instance the naming of Kigali is dated back to the 16th century. Literature with tales of how King Kigeri Mukobanya conquered Buliza and Bumbogo is documented.
History has it that he was awarded Mount Kigali as the seat of his residence by the King of Bugesera. His successor Mibambwe I Mutabazi, took possession of Bugesera and the natural region of Bwanacyambwe-sud was added to Rwanda.
It is believed that when his army conquered the area, he stood up at the peak of one hill and he gazed upon the vicinity and said, ‘Uziko Kyagihugu ali kigali’ literally meaning, ‘the place is wide’ hence Kigali acquired its name.
The naming of streets, roads or places involves a distinctive process that is quite amazing. For instance while naming streets, roads and places in Kigali, several institutions are involved.
Bruno Rangira, the Public Relations Officer of Kigali City Council explains the process in which several infrastructures are named in Kigali City.
“Different intuitions are involved in the naming process and they include; the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Sports and Culture, Kigali City Council and the public. They are engaged in the process so as to get the views of different stake holders who propose names.
The proposed names are sent to the parliament and it’s the duty of the cabinet to approve the nominated names,” Rangira explained.
When a name is approved by the cabinet, the proposed names are sent back to the city council that officially names a place, street or road.
The reason behind the comprehensive process of involving several institutions is to select the appropriate name based on several things like the vision, the populations cultural as well as the social and economic factors of the people living in a given area.
“In 2007, two roads were named: The African Union Boulevard which runs from the Prince House junction through Sona Tubes, Rwadex until the Kanogo Roundabout while the second road that starts at Kigali International Airport through Kigali Business Center (KBC) to the city center was named International Airport Boulevard,” Rangira said.
He added that there is a team working on the naming of other streets.
“Probably by the end of this year the names will be recommended,” assured Rangira.