Research Article

A toponomastic commemoration of King Mzilikazi: A linguistic landscaping and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs perspectives

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 3, 2020 , pages: 291–296
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1855722
Author(s): Beatrice Lantern, Masvingo, Thamsanqa Moyo, Masvingo


This article presents a commemorative dimension of place names named after King Mzilikazi. The Ndebele used names linked to Mzilikazi to refer to some of the important institutions of Bulawayo city, like schools, suburbs, police stations and clinics. This article argues that this prominent use of the name Mzilikazi by the Ndebele in reference to various institutions images their efforts to reconstruct the historical treasures of knowledge they have about their king. Mzilikazi, the first king of the Ndebele people, left an indelible mark on Ndebele toponymy in the city of Bulawayo. This study seeks to unpack this inerasable symbolic legacy. Theoretical frameworks used in this article are linguistic landscaping and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The former theory is used to select various institutions in Bulawayo bearing the name Mzilikazi, while the latter is employed as an instrument to unravel the significance of these selected institutions to Ndebele people across the Zimbabwean landscape. The study concludes that significant historical icons like King Mzilikazi are remembered through place naming since each time these names are mentioned, treasured Ndebele history is immortalised. It is argued that the iconic name Mzilikazi brings up memories of pride, sufficiency, health, belonging and general unity.

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