Sweden’s ‘Negro Village’ unveils new name

After 40 years, there is no longer a 'Negro Village' in southern Sweden as the suburb of Mjällby on Friday unveiled its new name following an outcry about the name's racist overtones.

“We’ve killed that name,” said Lars Björklund, CEO of Sölvesborgshem, the housing company which manages the area, to the TT news agency.

As homes in the area were built four decades ago with black chimneys, locals initially called the suburb Negerby, which translates into English as ‘Negro Village’.

While the suburb was never officially called ‘Negro Village’ the expression stuck in local parlance for nearly four decades before anyone decided it was time for a change.

“There was no harm in that word at the time, and there were no problems with the town name,” Björklund told The Local back in February when the decision was taken to re-christen the area with a name that had less of a risk of offending people.

At 11am on Friday, Björklund unveiled a new sign revealing the area’s new name.

From now on, residents of what used to be called ‘Negro Village’ now live in Österbo, which translates roughly as ‘Eastern Settlement’.

“There are parts of Mjällby which are already called Österbo. We’re now expanding that area,” said Björklund.

The area had previously been given the temporary title of Slottsstaden (‘Castle City’), until Österbo was chosen from among suggestions put forward by area residents.

However it remains to be seen if the new name will gain traction among locals who have grown accustomed to ‘Negro Village’.

“If someone asks me where I live, and if the answer is Österbo, the question then is, where is Österbo? ‘In Negerby.’ ‘Oh, I see, you live in Negerby.’ Everyone known were it is,” Mjällby resident Kennet Svensson, 76, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

TT/The Local/dl

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