What’s In A Name?

SiNGALiLWA, KU (-singalilwe), to be anxious and troubled ; to be at a loss of what to do.

The first thing most people ask me when we meet is what my name means. I’ve gotten used to it, so I always have an answer ready. “Kusimidwa” I’ll usually say. When they don’t know the meaning of that either I’ll continue with “lonely, or to be left alone.”

I’ve always found it very fitting for the anti-social mess that I am because I like being alone and for a while growing up you could describe me as a loner. I’ve since come across the description above in an online Yao handbook, which I find describes the name better — and is still personally relatable.

After one such explanation of the meaning of my name, we went on to discuss how people who have names with meanings seem to embody these names. Perhaps not all, but most. Which is quite curious and I’ve begun to wonder why that is.

Do we grow up to understand the meaning of our names and subconsciously internalise them? Or is it simply inherently inevitable, that I would be named something so particular to who I am as a person by some cosmic coincidence?

Whatever the case, I’ve become quite wary of the power in a name and should I choose to give my children names with meanings, I will do so carefully in the hope that if they personify these names — I will not be held accountable.

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