Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Names Meanings

i forgot to add at the end of the 'Black History Month' post that i am going to be posting random facts and insights into various cultures throughout the month of February. most of them will probably be about the conditions of enslaved individuals and colonized subjects, but others will be about far off lands...and some not-so-far off lands and people. and knowledge will ensue...yup.

so heres numero uno:
i've been interested in the definitions of names for quite some time now. while i was studying Islam, i looked at a bunch of traditional Arabic names, and it really does help you learn about their culture more. for example, many of the names are religious (obviously)like Abd-allah (Abdullah)means "servant of god" and the most common Muhammad (although it was rare prior to the Prophet Muhammad...)means "praiseworthy" or "to praise [god]", but theres many female names that have meanings such as "pure", "innocent", "chastity", and "precious". what this says about their culture is a different post...

anyway, i found this book entitled African Names and Naming by Jonathan Musere and Shirley C. Byakutaga, and these names are so interesting. to explain some names, it says this in the introduction:
Names can also promulgate an opinion of negative or positive bearing that may be directed by the namer to neighbors, family and kin, enemies, the newborn itself, and even to ancestral spirits and gods. the Shona of central and southern Africa have such names as Ruvengo (hatred), Hamundidi (you do not love me), Vengwa (the hated one), Masemani (you despise me), Ibvai (get away), Mativengerei (why have you been hating us?) and Chomunorwa (what is all the fighting about?)

these are some other names whose meanings i found interesting:
Bahemuka (m) [bah-heh-muh-kah] "They become ashamed". a name such as implying that the father doubted during the pregnancy that this child was his, but the child at birth turned out to so much resemble him--hence the father became ashamed of himself. [used by these tribes: Kiga, Nyankore, Nyoro, and Toro].

Bajabhisile (f/m) [bah-jah-bih-sih-leh] "they are disappointed". a name such as given to a newborn by the mother who had consistently maintained that she would eventually bear a child, despite the criticisms directed to her by her in-laws--the name symbolizes vindicating herself against her now disproved and disappointed in-laws who has for years caused her suffering and indignity as they denounced her for being childless. [used by the Zulu].

Barikurungi (m) [bah-rih-kuh-ruh-ngih] "they (i.e. the people or neighbors) are okay"; "they are experiencing good times"; "they are doing fine". this name is soemtimes associated with the proverb "those that are well off would not understand the plight of those that are badly off" [used by the Kiga, Nyankore, Nyoro, and Toro].

by the way, i googled the tribes that used the names i mentioned, and i found this cool website for and about The Nyore. the photo of the girls in yellow are from the Nyore and the rest are Zulu.

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