What’s in a Name…part 2

The names I currently use are Debra Riako Anam

From this post, you came to know why my first name was a pain for me when I was younger.

Anam is my great grandfather’s name. There are a few greats before you get to the grandfather. I can trace my lineage through him to the great Chief Anam. If I had been born decades earlier…I would have been royalty! In real life…that is, not just in my head. There is a time travel tale here waiting for me to write it. You see it too, right?

‘Nam’ in Luo-my language- means ‘Lake’. The migration of my people ended when they got to the shores of Lake Victoria according to the history books, so that could be where the name comes from.

Riako is a name with a long story. It is the inspiration for this post. Last week my siblings visited my dad. While they were there, my dad told them the story of the origin of this name. A story, I was very happy to point out when they called to brag about it, he had already shared with me years earlier.

Anam, the great grandfather, was married to a wonderful woman called Akoth. My father’s description of this woman was that she was very rich! (Again…I was born in the wrong decade, wasn’t I?) And she was also very generous. Her home was always filled with all types of wonderful foods and many people in the village loved dropping in for a visit. She received them all with a smile on her face. The one thing you would always find at my grandmother Akoth’s place was people and food. The same things you would find in a market.

Back then there was a big and very famous market in Nairobi. Kariakor Market. It still exists too. Anyone who had travelled to the big town knew of this market. The one place where you would go while you were in Nairobi and meet lots of people, and get lots of food.

So my grandmother’s house was nicknamed Kariakor.

To understand how this shifted to Riako…I’m going to give you a small Luo lesson.

The word ‘KAR’ loosely translates to ‘belongs to’.

In the Luo language, an addition of the letters ‘Ka/Ko’ before a name is done to indicate the place belongs to that name. For example;-

Kar Amollo (Amollo’s house/home) will be shortened to Kamollo

Kar Deby (Deby’s house/home) will be shortened to Kadeby

Kar Otieno (Otieno’s house/home) will be shortened to Kotieno

Used in a sentence…

Adhi Kotieno kelo rabuon….I’m going to get potatoes from Otieno’s house/home.

Adhi Kariako chiemo… I’m going to eat at Riako’s house/home.

Somewhere over the years, I’m guessing, a new generation came into the village that did not know of the relationship between the big market in Nairobi, and my grandmother’s home. They probably just thought that was her name.

‘Kariakor’ the Market inspired ‘Kar Riako’-the home belonging to Riako.

And the name has remained to date.

It is my father’s surname. When I went for my National ID, I took it up as my surname too. Because I am not a big lover of my own surname, (this can be a blog for another day)…and this one sounds a lot cooler.

Turns out you can get a whole blog post from your own name! There’s a tip for you.

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Deb