Meet Seattle’s Department of Transportation director who changed surname to Zimbabwe

When you hear someone with the surname Zimbabwe you will obviously assume the person is of Zimbabwean origin! Well, that is not true for Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle’s Department of Transportation director.

By Plot Mhako with excerpts from

I first noticed the name after the City commissioned a Skate Park and Same was mentioned in the article. As a skateboard enthusiast and the co-founder of Skate Zimbabwe project i was excited to imagine having a Zimbabwean being involved in a high profile skate-park project in the US.

Upon research i was blown away by what i discovered. Sam is not African-American.

“(Zimbabwe) is actually my legal name, I wasn’t raised with it,” he told Jason Rantz.

Zimbabwe explained that he changed his name when he got married. “When my wife and I got married, we combined our four family last names into one family last name “Sam Zimmerman-Bergman,” he said.

It was too hard to figure out how to combine our original family last names into just one so we settled for Zimbabwe”

Sam Zimbabwe has drawn criticism and questions surrounding his last name.  “I have heard there is a controversy about it, but I’m struggling to understand why that would be,” Zimbabwe said.


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