When we hear of kids called ‘Blessing’ or ‘Redemption’, there’s always that moment where you’re like ‘no, seriously, what’s your name?’

The naming business is no joke among Africans. If you remember your C.R.E, you’ll recall that we used to have naming ceremonies. Yes, a whole ceremony just to give a name. Then came the ‘Peter’, ‘John’ and ‘Jane’ era, which was during the colonization period. During that time, to enroll in school you had to give an ‘English’ name. You can imagine how much this messed up the established system of naming.

The ‘Peter’, ‘John’ and ‘Jane’ era was a pretty comfortable one. Well, it was until the likes of Ngugi wa Thiong’o dropped their English names and pointed out how much of our culture had been swept under the rug by a simple name.

I can’t say that Africanization of names took on completely, because you’ll still find people who ask, ‘so what’s your English name?’, which is technically inaccurate since most of those names aren’t really English. Where we are currently at, you could say, is a hybrid of both eras.

Over the last few years, names such as ‘Amani’ and ‘Sifa’ have become more and more common, which goes to show just what kind of a society we are becoming. It’s no longer about English vs African and it‘s also becoming less about tribes.

One thing I appreciate about those parents that come up with names like Praise or Raha is that they didn’t just pick any English name out of the box but instead, they gave a name with a story. If I meet someone named Praise, after looking at them twice, and after realizing that they are actually being serious, I’ll probably ask why and so, the story shall be told.

I think our ancestors understand the gravity of naming best. They didn’t give names according to how much attitude they had like ‘ Laquisha’ or ‘Tandra’. (Do they actually have meaning or are those just random syllables placed together?)

One thing I would love to see is an amalgamation of culture. A place where different cultures would meet and just have an exchange, not so as to dilute the cultures but just to appreciate them. With naming, why don’t we go beyond the limitation of tribe and give names from other tribes? These children will be brought up mixing with people from other tribes and races and though it’s important to give them a sense of identity, it is also important for them to gain tolerance and to appreciate diversity.