The name Mosi-oa-tunya is an older and more traditional name that was given to the Falls as a literal description meaning “the smoke that thunders”
One can imagine that the Falls were held in very high regard by the resident populations, it was of course the Zambezi river that supplied life giving water and food to the local communities.
The spray from the Falls, in the “high water” months of March, April, May and June, can be seen from up to 50 km away, towering into the sky. The sound of the Falls is a deep and continuous rumble, not unlike a rough sea thundering against the shore, a noise that can also be heard from afar.
The name “Mosi oa tunya” is certainly more apt than “Victoria” and no doubt a name treasured by the locals. It is, however, going to be an arduous task to convert an international community to a new and very likely misunderstood name. Not to mention the inevitable industry disruption and expense, with operators having to change their branding, marketing, information distribution, ticketing and booking systems.. and so the list goes on.
The Victoria Falls is a draw card second to none when it comes to attracting tourists from around the globe. This tourism provides income and jobs, as well as a future that, if well protected, is guaranteed forever. We should remember however that there are more and more competitive attractions around the world and even in Africa that are being marketed and are beginning to attract larger and larger numbers. We should be very careful to keep our Falls well marketed and well known to keep it up at the top of travel lists.
Tourism is a business that relies on perceptions.
VF24 comment – Most people have forgotten that the name Victoria Falls is actually a name inherited from Queen Victoria of England. If you were to ask the younger generations of locals and visitors to the region I doubt more than 50% of them would know where the name came from. The name Victoria Falls now stands out on its own, with no link to history, or reasoning needed, as a globally “iconic name”. It is a name synonymous with adventure and wildlife, incredible views and world wonder status.
In Zimbabwe today we have heard that there are plans afoot to change the name –
Editor, 17 December 2013