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Opinions of Saturday, 27 September 2014

Columnist: Gariba, Chieminah Abudu

Tumu street names and the errors of omission

Street naming is one of the major national policies being pursued vigorously by the current NDC administration. In consonance with this national policy, the Sissala East District Assembly has come up with some proposed street names for Tumu town. A member of KAMATECH Base made available to me via Whatsapp the list of the proposed street names for Tumu Township.
The proposed Tumu Street Names are as follows:
1. GD NANDZO STREET
2. CAPT. SAWYER STREET
3. KANTON WOGERE STREET
4. DR. HILLA LIMANN STREET
5. EGALA IMORO STREET
6. KANTON LURI STREET
7. FLORENCE B. STREET
8. ZINI WAVEI STREET
9. SOLOMON COURT
10. KUORO MUMUNI DIMMIE STREET
11. BOB HERSE STREET
12. BAADIYIGE ALI STREET
13. WONDERFUL DADSON STREET
14. MUNLI NARIMA STREET
15. J.N. BAANA STREET
16. G.B .KANTON BY-PASS
17. BAYORBOR DOCTOR LINK
18. LURI DAKUI STREET
19. NAANA TIKASEI STREET
20. TULIE FORKA STREET
21. ALIDU B. KANTON LINK
22. KANTON LURIWIE STREET
23. TONSUGLO NANYEH STREET
24. NELSON MANDELA STREET
I wish to thank the Sissala East District Assembly for a good job done. Providing every street in Ghana with a unique name is a brilliant idea. This is so because names give people, places and objects their identities and by extension their right addresses in time and space.
Embarking on a street naming project perhaps is one of the difficult jobs that one can ever find on earth. Without any reference to the world best practices with regard to street naming, I believe a good street name in the Sissala districts ought to possess all or majority of the following attributes.
• A good street name ought to reflect the history of the people of the street/town or propel those living in the street to make history.
• A good street name should as much as possible emanate naturally from the people living in the said street/town.
• The street name should outlive the generation that gave it the name.
• A good street name should inspire those who live in the street to contribute to the progress of humanity.
• The street name should serve to foster a sense of unity, identity, purpose and belonging.
• In small communities, inhabitants should have a sense of ownership of the street name. In other words, the street name, where practicable should be proposed and approved by those living in the street.
• A street name in a small town should make it easier for both literate and illiterate inhabitants of the town to have an accurate ‘guess knowledge’ of the suburb where the street so named can be found.
If my proposed attributes of a good street name is anything to go by, then, you can understand why the job of street naming is not an easy one. But how can one do this job with excellent results? Perhaps the best strategy to adopt for excellent results is to engage in broad consultations.
I believe all MMDAs were given guidelines or templates for the street naming exercise in Ghana. I also suppose the template used by Sissala East District Assembly contained the element of stake-holder consultations.
So far, the proposed street names for Tumu Town by and large represent the names the inhabitants may wish to have for their streets. However, looking at the names in its entirety I observed what I may describe as SERIOUS ERRORS OF OMISSION.
I observed with dismay the absence of the following names:
• Mr. Nidjon
• Mr. Zaato
• Mr. Bennin Douri
• Mr. Kwota
One may ask: Why do these people deserve a place in the street names of Tumu?
MR. NIDJON
• Nidjon was until his demise the sectional head of Nyaminjan.
• Nidjon served as an eminent linguist at the Tumu Chief’s Palace for over 4 decades.
• Nidjon was among the top 2 fiercest war dancers in Tumu.
• Nidjon served as a physical/spiritual security officer for Nyaminjan residents in Tumu.
• Nidjon served as a landlord for Nyaminjan (one of the indigenous suburbs in Tumu) for over 50 years.
• Nidjon served as an arbitrator/mediator in Tumu for many years.
• Nidjon was a peace-maker par excellence in Tumu.
• Nidjon was a prominent member of the council of elders of Tumu.
• He also served as an herbalist and spiritual consultant for the inhabitants of Tumu and its environs.
• Nidjon was the rain-maker and the person in charge of the rain god of Tumu.
• He was a custodian of Tumu/Sissala culture.
• He was an instructor/ tutor of Sissala culture.
Mr. Nidjon’s name until his demise was synonymous with Nyaminjan- one of the indigenous suburbs inTumu. I am yet to come across an adult Sissala man who grew up in Tumu who has not heard about the great exploits and contributions of Mr. Nidjon in the making of modern Tumu. To this end, I strongly recommend that the proposed Mandela Street should rather be named after Mr. Nidjon.
I concede the fact that the Mandela Street was the only street name in existence (though unofficially) long before the decision to name the streets of Tumu was made. The Mandela Street traverses Nyaminjan, of which Mr. Nidjon was the sectional head. What honour is more befitting than naming the major street in Nyaminjan after this indisputably unsung hero of contemporary Tumu history. It is instructive to note that if the proposed Mandela Street is renamed after Mr. Nidjon many a Sissala will be able to guess that the said street is located in the Tumu suburb called Nyaminjan; thus making it the ‘best street address in Tumu’.
It is better for us to rename the Mandela Street within Nyaminjan after Nidjon now than to do so at a later date.
I am not by this recommendation trying to diminish the importance of Mandela. As we are all aware the place of Mandela is well secured in the annals of world history. This street naming project offers us in the Sissala East District a glorious moment to immortalize one of our traditional heroes whose contributions may never find in written archives.
MR. WUJIE ZAATO
Mr. Zaato, just like his contemporary, Mr. Nidjon served in similar positions mentioned earlier.
Mr. Zaato, together with Mr. Nidjon roamed, played and helped to delineate the current outlines of present day Tumu streets. Mr. Zaato deserves to be named after one of the streets in Tumu.
MR. BENNIN DOURI
Mr. Bennin was an eminent educationist who served the Sissala people very well. As a pioneer teacher in Tumu he helped to shape the very foundations of Tumu streets and development through education, and deserves to be named after one of the streets in Tumu.

MR. KWOTA
Mr Kwota was another eminent educationist and politician who also served the Sissala people well. Mr. Kwota served well in Tumu and should be honoured with a street name to serve as inspiration to the young ones.
Fortunately, all these recommended persons lived and served people in Tumu till their deaths. They lived in streets that can easily be named after them; to ensure that their memory lives on with the people of Tumu.
Like any other human endeavour, I know street naming is not an event but a process. Many more streets will emerge in Tumu and will be given names accordingly. Be that as it may, there is value in the ‘Maiden Edition’ of every human occurrence. The above proposed names played pioneering roles in the making of modern Tumu. Honouring them with ‘maiden street names in Tumu’ in my opinion is non-negotiable. The individuals concerned were luminaries in their fields of endeavour; and the indelible footprints they left behind in the streets of Tumu should not be pushed into oblivion either by design or default.

Long live Tumu, Long Live the Sissala Land.

Chieminah Abudu Gariba
Sissala Heritage Foundation