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I'm glad I'm just plain Charles - no tricks, no gimmicks

By unknown | Mar 14, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

After last week's piece on nicknames, I take the liberty of indulging myself once more in this hilarious subject.

After last week's piece on nicknames, I take the liberty of indulging myself once more in this hilarious subject.

I thought I had heard them all - Wiseman, Peculiar, Togetherness, Procrastination, Euphoric, Myson - until an e-mail landed on my desk this week.

The writer, who quotes Home Affairs as his source, lists interesting names that have been recorded by the department in KwaZulu-Natal since the advent of cellphones.

Enjoy: Network Madondo, Subscriber Zulu, Nokia Khumalo, Siemens Mdlalose, Motorola Buthelezi, Dial Ngubane, Vodacom Mkhize, Voicemail Ngobese, Simcard Makhathini and, my all-time personal favourite, Pleasecall Ndlovu.


Out where I live there is a fellow who was so moved at fathering offspring that he gave them names that made an unequivocal statement. The kids are Me and Myself.

Strange that I should find that kind of queer, for when I was a kid I was not too chuffed that my parents had merely named me Charles. They had taken the easy, unimaginative way out.

I felt particularly jealous of two boys named Advocate and Benediction. With the benefit of Bantu education, I grew up to take issue with African folk who give their children names with profound meanings but then translate them into English.

So Letlhogonolo (a beautiful name in Setswana) becomes the frowned-upon and much less sophisticated "Fortunate".

Years back, I wrote a column in which I brazenly and quite insensitively questioned the notion of parents who go this route. Why, I demanded, do people want to express their lifelong ambitions or political aspirations through their children? For example, I bet you there is someone out there named Viva.

A day after the publication of that piece, I received a couple of irate calls from readers who admonished me in unprintable language for insulting their parents.

One of them cried as she shrieked insults into my ear, telling me how much she loved her late parents in spite of me taking them "for granted".

She was just short of accusing me of causing their parents' death.

I apologised then, and apologise now, to the parents of those who bear the funny-ha-ha names herein. But when the caller suggested I go to do my ablutions, I calmly put the phone down.

Reminds me, though, of a fellow who introduced himself as Dick. "Is that your name or does that describe you?" came the sharp retort from the other party.

At times like these, I am grateful to my parents for calling me plain Charles.

No tricks, no gimmicks.


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