When we hear of kids called â€˜Blessingâ€™ or â€˜Redemptionâ€™, thereâ€™s always that moment where youâ€™re like â€˜no, seriously, whatâ€™s your name?â€™
The naming business is no joke among Africans. If you remember your C.R.E, youâ€™ll recall that we used to have naming ceremonies. Yes, a whole ceremony just to give a name. Then came the â€˜Peterâ€™, â€˜Johnâ€™ and â€˜Janeâ€™ era, which was during the colonization period. During that time, to enroll in school you had to give an â€˜Englishâ€™ name. You can imagine how much this messed up the established system of naming.
The â€˜Peterâ€™, â€˜Johnâ€™ and â€˜Janeâ€™ era was a pretty comfortable one. Well, it was until the likes of Ngugi wa Thiongâ€™o dropped their English names and pointed out how much of our culture had been swept under the rug by a simple name.
I canâ€™t say that Africanization of names took on completely, because youâ€™ll still find people who ask, â€˜so whatâ€™s your English name?â€™, which is technically inaccurate since most of those names arenâ€™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 â€˜Amaniâ€™ and â€˜Sifaâ€™ have become more and more common, which goes to show just what kind of a society we are becoming. Itâ€™s no longer about English vs African and itâ€˜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 didnâ€™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, Iâ€™ll probably ask why and so, the story shall be told.
I think our ancestors understand the gravity of naming best. They didnâ€™t give names according to how much attitude they had like â€˜ Laquishaâ€™ or â€˜Tandraâ€™. (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 donâ€™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 itâ€™s important to give them a sense of identity, it is also important for them to gain tolerance and to appreciate diversity.