Mmegi Blogs :: What’s in a name?
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Last Updated
Wednesday 21 November 2018, 15:42 pm.
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What’s in a name?

“Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself though, not a Montague. What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part, Belonging to a man. O! be some other name: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father, and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”
By Tumie Modise Mon 03 Nov 2014, 18:39 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: What’s in a name?








Who can ever forget these famous words from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet’s tragic love story?

More often than not, our names can turn out to be our biggest obstacle in pursuing our heart and life’s desires. The second worst thing in life after not choosing your own family has to be not choosing your own name.

This topic crossed my mind a few days ago after our elections as many election candidates’ names were read out on the radio as the results came trickling in.

As Batswana we must be the worst country as far as naming our children is concerned.

I know I didn’t like my name when I was growing up, for the simple reason that I mostly shared it with boys at school. I don’t think it quite reflects my character either.

My own personal rule when it comes to naming a child is that the name simply has to be beautiful and not more than six letters. I am forever always conscious of the famous Setswana saying that goes “leina leya mareelelong (you live up to your name)”, so I generally also avoid naming children after anyone, not even celebrities or relatives.

Still on this issue of names, a few months ago, a friend teased both Bangwaketse and Barolong. Apparently Bangwaketse and Barolong are first cousins.

The two not only enjoy very cordial relations, but share the same district as well.

Out of the blue, my loose-tongued Morolong friend cheekily just put it to me  that whilst her tribe mostly named their sons ‘bo-Kgosietsile’, the Bangwaketse on the other hand were very fond of naming theirs ‘bo-Modisaotsile’.  I did not argue, farming is still a favourite pastime for my own neighbors and even folks.

Then again we have brothers and sisters in the northern part of this country.  Our fellow north of Dibete countrymen are just on another level when it comes to names, they don’t even have a match! I have no intention of stepping on anyone’s toes here; i’m merely stating a known fact. When I was growing up, our northern cousins were rumoured to

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being the most educated and I suspect this had something to do with nothing but their unique names.

Just like the rest of us, almost every child is given a second or even third English or colonial name. While the names are mostly biblical theirs are, at best, verbs and nouns.

Before the arrival of strange names such Beyonce, Neyo and Atla, the common Christian names of the time were, among others; Joseph, Joy, Margaret, John, Miriam, Joyce and a host of other biblical names. Not long ago, when you had to fill government forms, there was even a section on the form labeled ‘Christian name’, and this is where you were supposed to write your foreign name.

Legend has it that when the missionaries first arrived on our shores (or is it dessert), the first thing they did was get rid of our complicated and difficult to pronounce names and that after baptizing the new converts, the born agains would then be christened and thereafter be given these new Christian names.

Picture Mosimanewadipudi leaving home one Sunday morning just to return home later in the day with the new name, Nebuchadnezzar!

No doubt many were disowned by their families in the process, but still being the case, the names have stuck to this day, so much that it is not even uncommon to come across an atheist going by the name Joseph or a traditional doctor going by the name Peter!

Fortunate, Surprise, Reason, About, Even, Sentence, Near and Witness are just some of the common names in the North, even ‘Common’ is a name in those parts.

While I respect each parent’s right to name their child, I doubt whether we realise that names have a strange way of sometimes imitating real life.

Correct me if I am wrong but I honestly believe that names such as Kepaletswe, Tshotlego, Tekoetsile, Khutsafalo, Keganegile, Tshokolo, Matshwenyego and Mathata simply have no place on our birth certificates in this era. I know I would have long altered my birth certificate if I had any of these as names.

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