chapter  12
16 Pages

Toponymic complexities in Sub-Saharan African cities

Informative and symbolic aspects from past to present
ByLiora Bigon, Ambe J. Njoh

This chapter seeks to unearth the impact of toponyms on spatial policies and everyday practices—be they of the "top-down" or "bottom-up" variety. It draws on specific examples from a variety of cities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on Cameroon and Senegal. The chapter discusses generic and specific names in the colonial urban vocabularies of both French and British regimes, the main colonizing powers on the continent. Toponymic ambiguity in urban Sub-Saharan Africa can be seen as rooted in the colonial policies that encouraged the growth of native districts in urban areas. By the period of decolonization, the ever-growing gap between the European beaux quartiers and the African bidonvilles became stark. Based on Eurocentric accounts, Limbé was founded in 1858 by Alfred Saker, a British Baptist missionary. The town was named Victoria in honor of Queen Victoria of England. In fact, despite its colonial roots, some Anglophone Cameroonians of the older generation prefer to refer to the town as Victoria.