So. We knew we were having a baby. We were very excited for this baby. Now we needed to start thinking about names. WHAT. A. CHORE!
Instantly I had about a thousand names on hand that I thought were all amazing and needed to be discussed right away. My partner however, is not like me. He wanted to take his time and get a feel for our pregnancy- perhaps find out if we were having a boy or a girl. Yes- Tatenda and I are almost chalk and cheese.
Time went on, and with every day that passed, I grew convinced we were having a son, and needed to have some unisex names on hand, in case we did not have a son because Tatenda wanted a girl. With everyday, Tatenda kept feeling and thinking and taking his time. I was going nuts.
Names are very important for both he and I. Here is how we chose our names.
I wanted our child to have a combination of three things, character, uniqueness and lineage- a sense of where they come from. In other words, something to aspire to, while remaining cognizant of their background.
We decided to have names that communicated what we would like for our child- to be strong, courageous, loving, fearless, a leader of whatever they chose. I was also very adamant that she must NOT have English names as we are so prone to do- Africa is so full of languages, we must realize this. Also, her dad and I have an English name each, and even though I have English blood, I also have so many other lovely cultures too.
We picked her first two names based on what we wanted them to mean, the first would mean strength/ love/ happiness, all very powerful words that we live by. The second name would mean something to do with ruling, or leading. The third name would be their lineage. We would name them after someone so they would have a story for their name- as we both do. Someone who they could be proud to be named after. We decided then that we wanted quite a lot, and our child would have 3 names.
Time went on and we found out that Mambo was in fact a girl, and even though we did not need to change her first 2 names, we would have to find a way to give her a third name and choose wisely.
Amari– strength, happiness, love
Mambo– God, king, leader, ruler, chief
Marlyn– Marjorie and Lynette, our mothers. Also meaning ‘star of the sea‘ as we found out later.
Nothing made me happier than these names.
When we look at the names in sentence form in English what you get is a short sentence: ‘The love/ happiness/ strength of God/ the leader, the star of the sea.’
I am very glad we took the time to name our child in such a way that reflected both of us and our aspirations for her. I am glad that we got to honor both of our mothers while they are still alive and with us, in creatively naming their first grandchild after both of them.
What I found helped with our naming process was us going away and thinking of names we wanted- separately. We then came to the drawing board to decide which names we would like together and discarded any that were a big ‘No‘.
In the end, even though we had our own ways of doing things, we were able to agree and come up with names we would be proud to say and explain to her. I learnt that naming a child is indeed a very important task. For us it was not about how it would sound, it was very much about what it would mean– how she would identify. In this world where everyone has to choose an English name to allow for other people to say it easily, I wanted her to be like us, and teach people to say the name- properly, and not have to change it because of people who are too ignorant to learn a name PROPERLY.
I wanted her to stand proud of her names and never have to bend over backwards for anything because she is strong and powerful and discerning and loving and unique.
We took more time to think on the names than I had anticipated. In the end I got one name, Tatenda got one name, and the third was my creative genius, as a partner, mom and daughter. Of course.