When I lived in East Africa before, I found that the name Jan really isn’t in existence here. If I tell Africans my name it Jan it becomes Jane. I used to be more adamant that people call me Jan over my given name of Janet. To be sure, I still strongly prefer Jan. I think it is because I associate my full name with being called by angry parents, not to mention that is sort of sounds like (or kind of rhymes with) a certain phrase used when swearing. But now when I’m here, I have given in to telling people its Janet, it’s just easier.
After getting to know several Kenyans well the first time I was in East Africa, they got the concept of Jan being short for Janet and used it. For example, Jaynie and Rosy took to using Jan on a regular basis. They even did the typical East African thing and made it into Janni which reminded me of being called by my older siblings. (Who were never angry with me. – smiles.) In fact, these gals are really named Jane and Rose but we never call them those names.
The Tanzanians absolutely love that I am named Janet since it’s a relatively common name here and they can remember it. The other day a couple of our cooks from the kitchen were looking for my room. They knew the block (set of six rooms) it was on but not the room, so they were calling out my name – and it came out, Janeti! (Imagine it with three syllables and the middle one is stressed.) Now how cute is that!? I guess I really don’t mind being called Janet, at least not here.