What’s in a Name?

Recently i had a visit to my childhood memories as i sat reminiscing with family. I recalled with no small nostalgia how i wished i had names like some of my friends, Cherop, Mwende and Adhiambo when i was younger and we all went by our English names. As per custom, i was named for my grandmother as she was named for hers, ad infinitum. I wouldn’t want to change that, what with the crazy mess at the registrar’s office if you want to change your name.

Nevertheless, i want to see change in the way we name our kids. Why do we insist of names that are from so far, like Alphonse and Stephanie(no beef with any bearers of those names), but we cannot have, for instance, a Kikuyu child named Moraa, even though both her parents are Kikuyu? I mean, arent beautiful names locally born and bred.

I applaud those who name their children in Swahili, as that trend is exactly what we need. Every time i hear a Baraka or a Neema, a smile spreads across my face. I feel that our African names are widespread in the west. We hear of Kenyattas and Kenyas among populations here, so why don’t we do the same for our own families and communities?

I have a unique African name and spend time teaching people how it is pronounced. In the US, people want names like ours, so why don’t we want them for ourselves?


2 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. The baptism bit did some of us in as you had to throw in a Christian name for the baby to be holy (don’t ask).
    I have a cousin or two with names from many ridges and mountains away and it always raises eyebrows.

  2. Well, the Christian tag doesn’t cut it anymore. As for the holy, that’s another discussion.

    A discussion about how stripping away a vital feature such as naming in African culture, which, is sacred to the people, becomes sacred in another forum. I’m just saying…

    As for raising eyebrows, that I can see happening, and i feel that the way we regard the choice of other names is circumspect. How we get away with assuming things bemuses me to no end.

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