Suburbs names - A brief history

Suburb Names - Bulawayo

The city’s residential areas were located separately according to the people’s races: Europeans, Africans, referred to at that time as “Natives,” Indians and Coloureds. All European suburbs were sited either to the eastern, southern or northern side of the city’s industrial area: Suburbs, Kumalo, Hillside, Matsheumhlophe, Riverside, Famona, Waterford, Douglasdale, Burnside, Four Winds, Eloana, Montrose, Bellevue (pronounced “Bel-view”), North End, Sauerstown, Queens Park. Others, built during the now defunct Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and later during the Rhodesia Front era, include Bradfield.

Those for Coloureds were Barham Green, Thorngrove, and freehold plots at Rangemore and Trenance.

Initially, the Indian community did not have a special residential area, unlike in Salisbury (Harare) where Belvedere was primarily meant for them. However, in Bulawayo, Highmount, adjacent to and on the western side of State House, was initially meant for the Indian community during the Rhodesian Front period.

Before that, virtually all Indians in Bulawayo lived either behind or above their shops.

Africans were originally confined to the “Old Location,” popularly known as “Makokoba”, a stone’s throw west of Lobhengula Street. Oral tradition has it that the name “Makokoba” was derived from a white superintendent of that high density suburb who would crouch in the bush to frighten the location’s residents from relieving themselves in the bush.

“Wayekokoba etshwaleni . . .” The reader will note that modern SiNdebele orthography spells the word with an “h” (Makhokhoba).

Other high density suburbs that were built after Makokoba were Nguboyenja, named in memory of King Lobhengula’s son of that name.

Mzilikazi high density suburb also came up soon later, and so did Barbourfields, built on land formerly owned by a colonial settler called Mr Barbour.

Soon to follow were Luveve, a government urban housing project for what were regarded as middle class black people.

Njube, also called West Commonage Number Three, followed. Njube was also one of Lobhengula’s sons. It is said that he was a fearless man, and would ride into town, dismount at where Exchange Bar is today, leave his horse on the pavement, walk into the hotel lounge and demand service where only white people were legally allowed to be served.

Near Njube high density suburb the city council built West Commonage Number One (Iminyela) and West Commonage Number Two (Mabuthweni). Further to the north west, Old Pumula was also launched, and so was Hyde Park. At both those places, black people were living in but, of course, not the ground on which the houses were built.

Mpopoma and Tshabalala high density suburbs were built in the middle of the 1950s and early 1960s. The name Mpopoma was chosen because the area was wet land, with more or less perennial springs (impopoma zamanzi) at a number of places.

Tshabalala is the totem (isibongo, ntupo, mutupo) of King Lobhengula’s mother, Fulatha, a woman of Swazi extraction. Incidentally, one of the reasons given by those who were opposed to Lobhengula succeeding his father, Mzilikazi, was that his mother was not a pure Nguni, they claimed.

The Swazi’s belong to a linguistic class of Nguni’s called “AmaNtun’wa” but linguistically belong to a class referred to as “abazundayo”. Swazis call “umuzi” (villages) ‘“miti” and”‘izinto” (things) “itinto”.

Whether or not the Tshabalala clan is originally Swazi or only Swazi by adoption is not clear. But what we know as a historical fact is that the founder of the Swazi nation, uMswati Dlamini was of Tonga (Zambian) extraction. So, the Dlaminis are Ngunis by socio-cultural assimilation. They acknowledge this fact in their traditional rites and ceremonies.

After ascending the throne, Lobhengula rightly treated his mother as the queen-mother. The honour is, therefore, most appropriate. Other high density suburbs are Nkulumane, Matshobana, SIzinda, Entumbane, Makhandeni and Mganwini.

Matshobana was Mzilikazi’s father. Sizinda was a regiment’s name, so was Makhandeni. Entumbane is the name of Mzilikazi burial place.

Mganwini refers to a Marula (mpfula, isihlahla somganu). The last tree where traders and missionaries from the south usually stopped and outspanned their wagon-pulling oxen and spent the night before getting into Bulawayo before the railway reached the city in 1897.

Other trees where there were similar stops were Plumtree, Syringa, Marula and Figtree. Railway stations or sidings named after those trees were 16km (10 miles) apart.

The first Christian denominations to establish themselves in Bulawayo were the Roman Catholics, the Anglicans, the Methodists (Wesleyans) and the American Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), the last of which did not make as great an impact as the others because of financial constraints.

The nearest London Missionary Society (now United Congregational Church of Southern Africa —UCCSA) although closely associated with the Ndebele royal house since Mzilikazi’s days was at Hope Fountain Mission, some 16km south of Bulawayo.

The Njube LMS church was opened there by the late Rev Paul S King in the late 1950s.

Most of the other denominations came later as the city developed and the number of the congregants of the respective denominations increased.

Bulawayo at one time was the centre from which railways communication to and from various central, eastern, and northern Africa radiated.

Incidentally, its formerly whites-only low density suburbs were given names of towns or villages found in either Britain, the United States or those of some prominent white colonial officials.

One exception is, however, Famona, named after one of Lobhengula’s daughters, Mfamona. Pathisa Nyathi tells me that the name was corrupted to Famona. That suburb was the only one bearing a black person’s name when Bulawayo was a city of two racial characters, one black and the other white.

That double-faced socio-economic nature of Bulawayo was changed to a single face during the era of Mike Ndubiwa and soon after that of Moffat Ndlovu as the city’s town clerks.

Lastly, the city’s Mahatshula medium-density suburb, a very recent addition, bears the name of a senior member of the Ndebele royal circle, Mahatshula Ndiweni, who lived in the Hlambabaloyi village at that time in the Woodville area

Barbour Fields - The suburb was named after a former Mayor, H. R. Barbour. A mayor who during the colonial era, was greatly interested in the welfare of the indigenous people.

Barham Green - The suburb was named after two people. The first was a former Bulawayo City Councillor [who later became an Alderman] Mrs. M. E. Barham, M.B.E. and the other was Rev. Rufus Green. The two people were critical in the establishment of this suburb. During the colonial Rhodesia era, the suburb was designated for the Coloured Community.

Beacon Hill - Also known as Beryl Drive, reference is made to fact that it is the High Point of the suburbs and possess the areas with the highest marking beacon at its summit.

Belmont Industrial area - The area was named after a former Bulawayo City Engineer, Mr. Kinmont.

Bellevue - The suburb was named after estate name.

Belmont -

Bradfield - The suburb was named after Mr Edwin Eugene Bradfield, a pioneer.

Burnside - This area used used to be a portion of former town Council area, used be part of Matsheumhlope Farms. Name is derived from the reference to a river.

Cement - This was named after the surrounding industrial area, responsible for the making of Cement.

Cowdray Park -

Donnington -

Donnington West -

Douglasdale -

Eloana -

Entumbane - This is place where King Mzilikazi was buried.

Famona - The suburb was named after, Famona, one of the daughters of King Lobengula of the Matebele kingdom.

Fortunes Gate (Including Mtaba Moya) - The suburb name comes from the original property name, and gates are those of the original Market Building.

Four Winds - The suburb name comes from the original property name, the first house was on top of a hill.

Glencoe -

Glengarry - The suburb was named after its estate name.

Glenville (Including Richmond South) - The suburb was named after its estate name.

Granite Park -

Greenhill - The suburb name comes from the reference to scenery and topography.

Gwabalanda - Named after one of Ndebele chiefs, Gwabalanda Mathe

Hillcrest - The suburb name comes from the reference to topography.

Hillside - The suburb name comes from the reference to topography.

Hillside South - The suburb name comes from the reference to position of Hillside.

Hume Park -

Hyde Park -

Ilanda -

Kelvin (Industrial area, includes North East and West) - The area was named in reference to a suburb of Glasgow

Kenilworth - The suburb was named after its estate name.

Killarney -

Kingsdale -

Kumalo - The suburb was named after the Royal Clan of the Matabele

Kumalo North - Reference to the position of Kumalo Suburb

Lakeside - Lakeside was/is the stretch of water at the junction of the Old Essexvale Road and the road to the suburb of Waterford, and then onto Hope Fountain Mission

Lobengula - Named after the second Matabele King, Lobengula

Lobenvale - The suburb name is derived from a combination of King Lobengula's name and Umguza Valley

Lochview - The suburb name is in reference to Lakeside Dam

Luveve - named after chief Luveve

Mabutweni - The suburb name means “where the soldiers are”, the name was given in reference to a bachelor quarters.

Magwegwe - The suburb name is named after Magwegwe, who was one of the significant people in King Lobengula's royal Bulawayo town.

Makokoba - The suburb got its name from the actions of Mr. Fallon, who used walk around with a stick. The name comes from the word "umakhokhoba" which was the locals referred to Fallon as, meaning “the little old man who walks with a stick” . The word actually describes the noise of the stick hitting the ground ko-ko-ko or the doors.

Mahatshula - Mahatshula is named after one of the Ndebele Indunas. This induna's name was Mahatshula Ndiweni

Malindela - The suburb was named after the mother of Faluta, who was the mother of Lobengula i.e. named after Lobengula's maternal grandmother.

Manningdale - Named after of the developer suburb

Matsheumhlope - The name comes from the association with river (“White Stones”). White stones in Ndebele or Zulu language are amatshe amhlope.

Matshobana - The suburb was named after Matshobana, who was a chief of the Khumalo clan and more significantly he was the father of Mzilikazi, the founder of the Ndebele Kingdom.

Montrose - The suburb was named by the Estate Developers and Street names are of many Cotswold Villages and towns.

Montgomery - named after General Montgomery a decorated British Army commander

Morningside -

Mpopoma - The name comes from a descriptive Ndebele name for the area, which was derived from the sound the Mpopoma river makes when flowing.

Mzilikazi - Suburb was named after the first and founder Matebele King, Mzilikazi.

Newsmansford -

Newton - Estate name

Newton West - Reference to position (Newton).

Nguboyenja - Named after Lobengula’s son and heir.

Njube - Named after one of Lobengula’s sons

Nkulumane - One of the sons of King Mzilikazi and heir, founder of the Matebele kingdom.

North End - Reference to direction of Suburb

Northvale - Former Town Council area, reference to position and (Umguza) Valley


North Lynne

North Trenance - Reference to position relative to that of Trenance.

Orange Grove - Named after Major Cecil Paddon, O.B.E., (Pioneer).

Parklands - Estate Name. Park Lands Estate A (Portion of original grant to Dominican Sisters).

Parkview -

Pelandaba - “The matter is concluded”, a reference to the successful conclusion to the struggle for security.

Pumula - Means “A Resting Place” reference to the fact that many have built homes there to retire to.

Queensdale -

Queens Park - A reference to the Queen and the three main roads – Victoria Alexandra and Elizabeth

Rangemore - Suburb adopted the original estate name.

Raylton - Suburb adopted the original estate name.

Richmond -

Riverside - Derived from the original Estate name, which was in reference to the (Little Umguza) River

Romney Park - The suburb was named after George Romney, a British Painter

Sauerstown - Named after Dr. Han Sauer, original owner of the land

Selbourne Park -

Sizinda - Battle regiment of King Mzilikazi of the Matabele

Steeldale - Composite name referring to industry.

Suburbs - This was the first suburb and retained that name.

Southdale -

Southwold - The suburb was named by the Estate Developers and Street names are of many Cotswold Villages and towns.

Sunninghill - After British Royal residence (given to present Queen at time of marriage).

Sunnyside - Chosen from list of suggested names

Tegela - The name is derived from a Ndebele word meaning “to visit”.

Thorngrove - Suburb name came from the large number of Mimosa (Thorn) trees in the area.

Trenance - Estate name

Tshabalala - The “isibongo” or praise name for Lobengula’s mother, Faluta, who was of Swazi extraction.

Umguza Estate - Named after the Umguza River which runs through it

Upper Rangemore - Name in reference to Rangemore suburb.

Waterford - Estate name

Westgate -

West Somerton -

Willsgrove -

Windsor Park - Named after English town or Castle grounds

Woodlands - Chosen from a list of suggested names

Woodville - Retained the old Estate Name.