Nine months from now newborn babies will bear some strange names
It used to irritate me when, upon being introduced to a white person, they would go something like, "Good to meet you, Fred. But what is your real name, your African name?"
Then I would say: "Stimelasiyashunqasibhekempendle." Inevitably, they'd blink repeatedly, and ask: "Lovely name. What does it mean?"
"Drive the silk-haired ones to the sea!" I would respond gleefully, lying through my teeth of course.
I've mellowed down now. I give them my Zulu name, Vusisizwe. The inevitable question will always be there. "What does it mean."
"I didn't ask you the meaning of Jane, did I?" Except I never say it out loud.
Everyone knows Africans do not take the naming of a child lightly. The name has to tell a story, or it has to record some history. If you are South African, you would know former president Jacob Zuma's middle name is Gedleyihlekisa loosely translated into "you laugh in my face while causing me harm behind my back".
In case you didn't know, Zuma's brother's name is: Thangithini (what do you want me to say?). True story.
So, combined the names of the Zuma brothers formed a sentence: "What do you want me to say when you laugh in my face while doing me harm behind my back?"
Profound stuff. But why, I hear you ask, would a mother bestow such names upon her sons? You see Zuma was born into a polygamous family. His mother was a junior wife who was being harassed by her co-wives. To fight back, she gave her sons these provocative names.
In a polygamous set-up, children's names are used as weapons among the wives.
The reason I'm telling this story is to explore the names likely to pop up nine months from now, when children conceived during the coronavirus lockdown are born.
During lockdown, people can't go to work; they can't socialise with friends. Sooner or later they are going to run out of jokes and stories, the very stories that they've been telling each other all these years they've been together.
Inevitably, they will seek solace in bedroom gymnastics. In due course, the sessions will intensify each day. When, in 2021, parents finally hold in their hands newborn babies conceived during the closing months of the summer of 2020, please allow them some indulgence. Let them go wild with the names.
Girls born in the Eastern Cape will have such names as NoCorona; NoLongholiday. Or, if a boy, Zenevirus (which will be shortened into Zakes).
In KZN, boys will bear such names as Nsumansumane (mystery). This is because the virus is still a mystery to many.
Or, if the father is a doubting Thomas, his son will be named Mangakasilili (Cyril's Lies). Or the poor boy will be called Mashayin'asibulele (the Chinese killed us). When he grows up, the boy will shorten the name to Shayina.
A woman with a sense of humour will name her girl Ngazengaphumula (relief at last). After those relentless bedroom sessions.
Another one will be called Ngenzeni (what have I done). What have I done to be at the mercy of this man for 21 days.
If not that, she'll be Phuthalekholona (corona's fault).
Cynical fathers will name their sons Owamingempela (he's truly mine). The insinuation being that the woman couldn't have cheated on him as they were together 24/7, for 21 days.
Or, a woman, trying to remind the father she couldn't have cheated on him, will name their son Mphikeni (deny him, let's see).
Bazalwane, let's take this lockdown a day at a time.
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