By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Emeritus Professor of Sociology
What if you heard about or absolutely knew addition whose aboriginal absolute name was “Because”, “Clever”, “Shame”, “Financial”, or “Trouble”? You would apparently achieve that these are nicknames imposed somehow on afraid individuals, or conceivably names called by bodies who did not apperceive English and accordingly apprenticed of the accurate meanings of the words. You may conceivably anticipate the names were called by apathetic parents who capital their accouchement to be accessible targets as victims of abundant affliction on academy playgrounds. But all these assumptions would be wrong. These and abounding added aboriginal names that you would abandoned characterize as peculiar, unusual, strange, or adapted out funny are agreeably chosen, cherished, and acclaimed amid best bodies of the Southern African country of Zambia. How did some Zambians advance association that eventually came to endorse and acquire these names? This is one of the abounding after-effects of agreeable change not abandoned in Zambia in accurate but additionally in Africa as a whole. This columnist conducted analysis into the acceptation of Zambian acceptable names over twenty years in the Eastern and Southern Provinces of the African country of Zambia. He accustomed at some actual anecdotic explanations and conclusions.
What aggressive the columnist to conduct analysis and abode about Zambian acceptable names? One morning forty years ago back he lived in the Capital burghal of Lusaka in his built-in country of Zambia, he was account the Sunday Times of Zambia back his wife drew the author’s absorption to the actuality that some of the Zambian names in the cardboard were interesting, absurd, and sometimes absolute hilariously funny. These were names of accustomed citizens but additionally those of magistrates and arresting civic leaders. Zambians about joked about some of the names and speculated about their origins. One of the arresting leaders was “Bwembya Lukutati”. The belief was that this Zambian man’s aftermost name may acquire meant he had been “looked at” a lot back he was growing up. One chiffonier abbot was called “Steak” Mwale which was spelt “Siteke” Mwale. On the burghal breadth of the Copperbelt, such names as “Fork” and “Cubbage” arresting as “foloko” and “kabici” respectively” were accepted amid the Lamba bodies alive in the burghal areas of Zambia’s Copperbelt.
Fines Bulawayo” was a affiliate of the cardinal Central Committee of the afresh United Civic Independence Party (UNIP). Bulawayo is a above burghal in Zambia’s adjoining country of Zimbabwe. It is as if abounding bodies in the West had aboriginal absolute names such as London, Paris, Rome, Chicago, Barcelona, Los Angeles. Paul Lusaka was addition arresting Zambian civic baton who was a brood of the aboriginal Chief Lusakas. Lusakas was the name of a babyish Zambian apple that was amid at the armpit of the present civic Capital of Lusaka in the aboriginal 1920s during the aboriginal allotment of British colonialism in Zambia.
The Zambian adventure goes that a Western agent was calling UNIP abode in the Capital Burghal of Lusaka in Zambia from New York. The buzz rung a brace of times and Paul Lusaka best it up. The chat is arise to acquire gone like this:
“Hello!!!” Paul Lusaka said in the phone. “Who is calling please?”
“I am calling from New York, may I allege to Bulawayo please?” asked the caller.
“This is Lusaka”, replied Paul Lusaka. “I am apologetic Bulawayo is in Zimbabwe”.
The columnist has about not abandoned wondered whether it is abandoned Zambians who can acquire names that outsiders ability attention as accidental of an African or Zambian, but added chiefly what motivates Zambians and what inclines them to acquire such adapted names?
The author’s amorous absorption in the acceptation of Zambian acceptable names started back he was actual adolescent growing up as a six-year-old at his affectionate grandfather’s apple at Chipewa additionally accepted as Chupu apple in the 1950s. His grandfathering was Mateyo Kabinda but he was accepted as Mchawa which agency “tall and slender” which was a types of “zina la milangwe” whose accurate acceptation in Tumbuka accent is “the name of joking.” His grandfathering was a alpine able man. He acclimated to deathwatch up actual aboriginal in the morning at dawn, consistently accustomed an axe on his shoulder, to go and assignment in his field. He grew abundant aliment to advice augment added than fifteen accouchement and admirable accouchement at the time. The author’s grandmother was Esitere Mwaza, additionally accepted as NyaMwaza, the prefix “Nya” amid the Tumbuka bodies is acclimated as a admiring way to abode a woman. She consistently woke up afterwards so that she could delay for us grandchildren to deathwatch up. She would afresh augment the calm pigeons, nkhunda, let the chickens out, and adapt aliment to be the taken to the acreage for that day. They boring absolved with her and beyond three babyish creeks afore they accustomed at his grandparent’s field. His grandmother would aboriginal accomplish blaze in the mphungu, a babyish grass roof anatomy that was a acting apartment during the growing season. She would afresh baker some breakfast or balmy any assortment from the antecedent night. She would afresh accompany his grandfathering who would already acquire been alive agronomics the acreage back dawn. Their acreage was so big that one day, the columnist asked one of those babyish questions that his grandparents for there blow of their lives talked about with bemusement:
Both his grandparents laughed with amusement. With accessible pride they replied:
“We use a hoe with our bald calmly to till the acreage so that you can eat as abundant sima as you appetite until your abdomen is full”. Sima is the Zambian basic food.
Those actual absolute determinative years with his grandparents larboard an enduring mark on the author’s life. The names of the abutting ancestors and elders in his village: Mchawa, NyaMwaza, Chipewa, Chupu, Ngaramira, Mwendapole, Kunotha, AnyaKudambo, and abounding others acquire consistently been absorbed to his body and acquire a adapted meaning. He assembly these names and their meanings with warmth, love, pride, security, and joy. Alike the name of the brook Denkhule, that he beyond accustomed to go to academy all acquire a abysmal absolute acceptation consistently in his absolute life.
The author’s ancestor was a primary academy teacher. He told belief every black back the columnist was growing up. He told his belief to the ancestors abnormally afterwards a adorable banquet beneath the aglow bendable ablaze of the blow lamp. During these stories, abounding abutting relative’s names came up afresh and afresh of bodies who had acutely afflicted his father’s activity as a adolescent and a adolescent man growing up in the village. The names Zemba, Curazelu, Kakoba, Mtuma, Dikirani, Sajeni, Chimbalanga, Mjeruzye, Kurilaniko, Mkhutanyanga, Machona, Carumako, Visi, Kaswatu, Yamise, Zibalwe, Vayeya, and abounding added names,in one way or another, apparent kindness, aberrant administration qualities, humility, brusqueness, impatience, faculty of humor, courage, courage and some for actuality adventuresome and adventurous. The names about had specific meanings that apparent some of these virtues. Some of the ancestors abominably were accepted for actuality lazy, authoritative bad decisions, bubbler too abundant and about actuality ambagious in the apple or family. Their names and “zina la milangwe” or “names of joking” additionally reflected these meanings. The appulse of these belief and the accompanying ambience, were so able on the author’s body that alike to this day in America, area black activity is bedeviled by ablaze lights, boyish accouchement arrant loud rap music, television, campanology of the telephone, the computer, and video amateur with loud complete effects, the columnist still has a cornball admiring to eat a quiet banquet alfresco in the evenings beneath a blow lamp or annex and authority airy conversation. Of course, this has never been possible.
An African adage says: “A adolescent who does not biking thinks his mother is the best cook” additionally applies to the author’s acknowledgment of acceptable Zambian names and how Zambians accommodated to the Western access and agreeable change through British colonialism in their best and acknowledgment of names. If the columnist had abandoned lived in his home apple all his life, he would acquire afflicted that his built-in Tumbuka names were the abandoned ones that were best interesting.
However, back he larboard his apple to biking one hundred and fifty afar and went arise Chizongwe Accessory Boarding Academy in 1967, which is amid in the bigoted Capital of the Eastern Province, his acknowledgment to what names could be was expanded. If he anticipation his own family, relatives, and ancestor’s names were artistic and actual abnormally unique, the names of the added than four hundred acceptance at Chizongwe Accessory Academy primarily from all the four corners of the Eastern Province of Zambia showed arresting differences and variation.
These differences seemed added abstract and circuitous back the columnist abounding the abandoned civic University of Zambia in 1972. The names from the rural Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western and burghal Zambia all converged amid the acceptance at the University. This was added actual alluring for the author. One arrangement seemed actual accessible in all the names of the Zambian university acceptance at the time. Zambian names showed a arresting aberration and adroitness in choices of aboriginal names. But about with few or no exceptions at all, best Zambian aftermost names articular an aboriginal clan. Because of this, the all-inclusive majority of aboriginal Zambians could calmly be articular and conceivably their affiliated ancestry traced by their aftermost or association name. You could acquaint what association of agent or acceptable accumulation a apprentice belonged to by their aftermost name. As a accepted aphorism that seemed to administer in the cutting cardinal of cases, if a Zambian had a aftermost English name such as Brown or Smith, it meant they were a black actuality or a actuality of a alloyed chase or had had some Western, White or European heritage. If your aftermost name was Patel, Ayub, or Mohammed it meant your were Mwenye or which is a Zambian alluring appellation for an Indian or addition who has an Indian heritage.
Zambians acquire about advanced breadth and abandon in the best of their aboriginal names. Although the majority of tribes, ethnic, or accent groups acquire almost abiding or characteristic last, family, of association names, the aboriginal names can be called in anyhow and at any time. There are some patterns, however, as to back the names can be called or let abandoned changed. One of the capacity of acreage analysis Tumbuka, Chewa, Ngoni and Nsenga in the Eastern Province and the Tonga bodies in the Southern Provinces of Zambia was to actuate the association of allotment babies and how the names are chosen.
When the babyish is born, the mother stays in aloneness with the babyish for about one accomplished week. On the appointed day afterwards the umbilical bond of the babyish has fallen, the mother and the babyish arise out from the house. This is why the name accustomed to the babyish at this time is accepted as “zina la pamdotho” amid the Tumbuka and “zina la bamkombo” amid the Chewa, Nsenga, and Ngoni peoples. This means: “name of the umbilical cord” and is a adapted cogent attribute of acquaintance aural families. The actuality who is to acquire the baby’s name consistently charge aboriginal action a craven to the mother, and these canicule money ability be offered instead. Sometimes they ability additionally buy some clothes for the baby. There are variations in who is called or appointed to name the baby. It could be the benevolent grandfathering who is accustomed the account of anxiously allotment a name. Some families will baptize the benevolent grandfathering to accord the name if the babyish is the aboriginal built-in to the couple. In this case, the blow of the consecutive babies built-in are called by the father. The ancestor of the babyish or a about could additionally name the adolescent giving it his or her own name. Afresh the abutting babyish is appointed to be called by the affectionate grandmother in some families. The actuality who is allotment the name charge be acquainted of what has been accident in the ancestors as this advice will actuate what blazon of name they will acquire and the acceptation of the name. Depending on the circumstances, the babyish sometimes is artlessly accustomed the grandparent’s name. You ability acquire the name of an old relative(s) abnormally grandparents, aunts, who ability be old or are dead. The name ability characterize the affairs in which the babyish is built-in which ability be serious, sad, tragic, happy, blissful or adapted out comical. The name about depicts the agreeable affairs of the baby’s bearing in the broadest faculty of the term.
In some cases back a adolescent is born, several canicule or weeks sometimes ability expire afore a name is given. This continued aeon of time ability expire because the grandparents or the actuality who is appointed to acquire the name lives actual far abroad or is on a continued journey. As anon as the actuality is summoned, they name the babyish anon afterwards their arrival.
In some cases, a about ability artlessly announce that they will action a craven to the mother and name the baby. In added words, whoever wants ability sometimes name the baby. Alike a absolute drifter ability action a craven to the mother and acquire the adapted to name the child. There is sometimes absurd adaptability and aberration about the custom and process.
This adduce from a acknowledging from a apple best abbreviated the acceptable association surrounding the allotment of the babyish in the Eastern Province of Zambia:
“When a adolescent is built-in afore we name him or her, we accede the accomplished acquaintance so that we can name him according to the circumstances. The one giving a name should accord commodity to the parents or the anew built-in child, it could be money or a chicken.”
The name of the umbilical bond is about acclimated by the parents and ancestors until the adolescent alcove puberty. Already they ability puberty, the babe or boy is usually accepted to change his or her name. From afresh on, the adults and abnormally aeon will alarm the adolescent abandoned by their new name. Parents and others abutting developed ancestors may abide to use the name of the umbilical bond abandoned in the child’s absence or never in advanced of the child’s face. This is about a action of the parent’s account for the adolescent and accepting of the child’s advance and maturity. Grandparents, however, are accustomed the breadth to use the name of the umbilical bond back they are praising, joking, or it could be rebuking and affliction the child. This ability be if the adolescent has approved a decidedly extreme, offensive, abrupt conduct, rude, or an unacceptable behavior. It could additionally be during an break of abundant joy, jubilation, and anniversary as during the child’s bells ceremony. The use of the name of the umbilical bond is a assurance of abundant acquaintance amid a actuality and a abutting earlier relative. It about agency they knew the adolescent from back they were a baby. However, the accidental or condescending use of the aforementioned umbilical bond name by a drifter or a associate is admired as calumniating and analytical and accordingly account for offense, hostility, and amid juveniles alike concrete confrontation.
Besides the name called at puberty, best bodies in Eastern Zambia acquire “zina la milangwe” or “the name of joking”. This ability be a appellation that has a absurd acceptation which depicts the person’s bad or aspersing attributes, pit annoyance or acceptable habit. Others will about alarm or abode them by this name and the actuality ability ravel in its awfully absurd meaning. So, it is not abnormal for a archetypal Zambian from the Eastern Province to acquire up to four names all of which ability be acclimated in the adapted agreeable circumstances. For example, parents ability apperceive the child’s four names, but they ability use the name of the umbilical bond back apropos to the adolescent because this is how they carefully apperceive him or her. Aeon and added abreast adults ability apperceive him by the name he or she chose at adolescence and at school. He or she ability additionally acquire one or two “zina la milangwe”; the names of joking; one now and addition name back they are in their old age.
A acceptable archetype is this author. His “zina la pamdotho” called by his grandparents was “Yakhobe”. Back he was a adolescent jailbait in aerial primary academy the name was briefly a linguistic bounded aberration of “Yakobe” afterwards the “h”. During his accessory academy days, the name was afflicted to the English and biblical “Jacob” and accompany nicknamed him “Jack the behemothic killer”. The name “Jack” stuck. Back he was in his thirties afterwards he had accomplished his Doctoral studies, he afflicted his name to “Mwizenge” which agency “you are welcome.”
The clairvoyant ability ask; “Isn’t this confusing? Why not aloof acquire one official name and anybody will apperceive you by the one name?” In administering analysis and celebratory how and why the names are used, it occurs that accepting a cardinal of names ability serve several advantageous functions. Aboriginal it gives the alone the befalling to grow, board and acquire change in him or herself abundant added easily. The name change is a able symbol, for example, that the adolescent has afflicted and developed from actuality a “boy” or “girl” to “a adolescent man or woman” and on the way to accepting abounding developed cachet in the family, village, or community. Its is a adapted of access for all adults from Eastern Zambia amid the Tumbuka, Chewa, Ngoni, and Nsenga peoples. Second, the name changes abnormally in bold the “zina la milangwe” or “the name of joking” provides an alone with an befalling to accede some of his or her acute archetypal personality characteristics or quarks as others see the actuality in the family, apple or community. Are you too quiet or humble, too talkative, or do you accuse all the time about life? Are you too bargain or actual prosperous, are you too generous? Do you consistently like to abrasion clothes that are actual fancy? Do bodies say you airing with a assertive pride in your step? Are you abbreviate choleric or accessible to get forth with? Are you you too abbreviate or too tall? Do you like to consistently say absolutely what is on your mind? The new names can reflect all these consistently alteration qualities in a actuality as they go through life’s stages in the ancestors and community.
Third, names additionally accommodate and ascertain assertive levels and amounts of aloofness amid individuals in the community. For example, commonly abandoned bodies who apperceive the alone carefully or back he or she was a babyish will apperceive the name of the umbilical cord. Teachers and administration ability abandoned apperceive the person’s avant-garde English academy name and not the added names.
Fourth, the befalling to change the name additionally provides the alone with a acute way to characterize times back they acquire accomplished desperate or alarming change or some blazon of alteration in life. Already they survive the agony one way of healing or reflect the change ability be to acquire a new name. For example, if one has survived a blood-soaked action during war, alarming event, austere dearth or calamity in which one survived but others died, or if the alone has immigrated to an absolutely new acrid ability and has hit a fortune. In all these and added affecting and life-altering events, the person’s old name ability no best be able to abduction the changes and reflect what about be the “new person”.
The choices of what assume like adapted names by Zambians today is constant with the Zambian acceptable association and patterns of name choices. A accumulating of bristles hundred and seventy-six (576) acceptable aboriginal names was conducted from the Tumbuka, Chewa, Nsenga, and Ngoni peoples of the Eastern Province of Zambia. An assay of the names, their meanings and affairs in which the names were called appropriate four above factors that actuate how Zambian parents commonly chose the baby’s name. First, the best abutting agreeable affairs in which the babyish was built-in are acclimated to actuate best of the name of the baby. For example, due to the actual aerial babyish bloodshed amount and afterlife amount in accepted afore avant-garde anesthetic was introduced, a ample allocation of the names acquire to do with too abounding babies dying afore this one was built-in or too abounding ancestors dying at the time of the baby’s birth. Some of the added affairs accommodate conjugal problems, infidelity, feuds in the family. Second, the baby’s name was about a bulletin and a annotation on acute issues that ability acquire been activity on in the family, village, and community. Third, parents about had aerial aspirations for the baby. The ancestors may acquire been blessed and cogent joy at the birth. The babyish was about accepted to comedy a assertive role in the approaching of the ancestors in agreement adopting accord and acknowledging the parents in afterwards life. Fourth and conceivably what is best accordant to how Zambian adults chose names today is how some names were “zina la milangwe” or nicknames or “names of joking”. These are names with blithe meanings that are about comical, amusing, and the alone acclimated to apish and blow fun at themselves.
What were the best frequently cited Zambian acceptable names? There were fifteen names that were cited added than once. Tables 1 shows a sample of the fifteen acceptable names from the Eastern Province of Zambia.
NAME FREQ PERCENT
TOTAL 63 100
It is not hasty that Zambians today acquire aboriginal names that reflect abstruse and agreeable changes that are all about them. Some of the changes are academic Western education, civic and all-embracing antic events, newspapers, radio, television, the computer, new conjugal habits and customs, boyish pregnancy, immigration, political change and conflict, and urbanization aloof to a acknowledgment a few aspects of the agreeable changes. Zambian African names acquire consistently reflected the agreeable altitude and cogent contest that afflicted the couple, the family, the apple and the absolute community. Already an adult, a Zambian has amazing latitude, abandon and abandon in the best of his or her aboriginal name. The aboriginal names the avant-garde Zambian ability acquire absolutely ability arise aberrant such as: “Pencil”, “Wonder”, “Gearboxdatsun” “Skin”, “Experience”, “Sky”, “Conference”. The new “peculiar” and “funny” choices of names, therefore, are abandoned a assiduity and addendum of abiding cultural traditions.
Adamic, Louis. What’s Your Name? New York: Haper and Brothers, Publishers, 1942
Chuks-Orji, Ogonna. Names From Africa: Their Origin, Meaning, and Pronunciation, edited by Keith E. Baird. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., 1972.
Lambert, Eloise. and Pei, Mario., Our Names: Area They Arise From and What They Mean, New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Co., Inc., 1960.
Madubuike, Ihechukwu. Anatomy and Menaing in Igbo Names, Buffalo: State University of New York, Department of Black Studies, 1974.
Madubuike, Ihechukwu., A Handbook of African Names, Colorado Springs, Colorado: Three Continent Press, 1994.
McKinzie, Harry. and Tindimwebwa, Issy., Names from East Africa, Harry McKinzie, Publisher, 1980.
Stewart, Julia., African Names: Names from the African Continent for Accouchement and Adults, New York: Citadel Press, 1994.
Tembo, Mwizenge., What is Your Name?: Tumbuka, Chewa, Ngoni, Nsenga, and Tonga Zambian Acceptable Names, July 9, 2001. Unpublished Book Manuscript.
Tembo, Mwizenge., What Does Your African Name Mean?: The Meanings of Aboriginal Names Amid the Tonga of Southern Zambia, Lusaka: University of Zambia, IAS Analysis Reports No. 1, 1989.
Zabeeh, Farhang. What is in a Name?: An Inquiry into the Semantics and Pragmatics of Proper Names, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968.
Zambia Daily Mail, 11, 19 November 11, 19; December 3, 1981; January 7, 1982.
Mwizenge S. Tembo: The columnist acquired his B.A in Sociology and Psychology at University of Zambia in 1976, M.A , Ph. D. at Michigan State University in Sociology in 1987. He was a Lecturer and Analysis Fellow at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia from 1977 to 1990. During this period, he conducted all-encompassing analysis and acreage assignment in rural Zambia decidedly in the Eastern and Southern Provinces of the country. The analysis capacity advised included the acceptation of Zambian acceptable names. He would like to acknowledge the Institute of African Studies of the University of Zambia and now Institute for Economic and Agreeable Analysis and Bridgewater College for their abetment during the acreage work. He is co-founder of Zambia Organization for Documentation and Validation of Ability and Technology (ZADOVATE). The name was afterwards afflicted to Zambia Knowledge Bank (ZANOBA). He is Emeritus Professor of Sociology.
This commodity was additionally appear in: Mwizenge S. Tembo, Such Adapted Names: The Significance of Allotment in Zambia, The World & I Magazine, May 2002.
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