Jo, a friend in China recently wrote about her Chinese name and how she got it. Her article got me thinking about my names, here. I know of a few and there are probably many more names that I get called behind my back and I don’t even know it. There are probably more to come too.
When I lived in Kenya in the 90’s there were different times when I did or did not have a vehicle to drive. Thus I was on busses or matatus quite often. Every mode of public transportation has a conductor or tout. Because I was so often doing a very typical Kenyan thing, I was named by the touts on my route, Wajiku. One of the most typical names from a girl from one of the main tribes in Nairobi.
I quizzed my friends from that tribe about the meaning, and there isn’t one. It’s just typical, normal, everyday. But one friend in particular enjoyed playing with my last name and dubbed me, Kabole. That’s the name of a 5-shilling coin. It’d be the equivalent of calling me Nickle.
When my friends from another tribe heard about being named by touts, they made it clear that that wasn’t any way to get a Kenyan name! So they named me from their group, Mwende. To this day it’s my favorite Kenyan name, because it means Loved One.