What’s in a name, Michael?

Fascinating culture, the white one. I’ve always been in awe – white culture rocks.

Look at this – the best thing about white culture are the names – they are interchangeable. You meet a guy called Elliot Cook in the morning, and then meet a guy called Cook Elliot in the evening. Although I would advise not to cook him. And the funny thing is, these two people would be separate and distinct, with no trace of kinship save for Adam as the common denominator. It’s insane.

I am part-way through the movie "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World". In the cast is a girl by the name of Alison Pill. Hahaha. This girl is a tablet. I can imagine when Miss Pill goes on the pill, isn’t that a form of cannibalism? I have yet to meet a person with first name "Pill" though, that would be sick. lol, sick *chuckle chuckle*.

There is hope that such a person exists though. I could swear there have been sightings. I mean, if Michael Jackson’s son is (or was) called Blanket, why would there not be a Pill? Heaven knows the latter would be more useful. As for Blanket, of course he’s relevant in this topic even if he isn’t totally white. His mother is white. Or looks white, like Mike. Dear lawd, we are living in the last days, where science and technology can erode a break-dancer’s nose and bleach the man to his very genes.

One wonders, though, whether an unfair generalization is being made here. I mean, "white" is rather vast. "White culture" must surely include Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Imagine a guy walking around with a first name of Schwarzenegger. Hehehe. You meat a guy named Schwarzenegger Cook in the morning and then meat a guy called Cook Schwarzenegger in the evening! That savoury result may in due course lead to your termination. When it’s back.

Black culture doesn’t generally have such nice name interchangeability. For example, in the SADC region we generally have surnames of animal names. Ndebeles and Zulus will have Thulani Dube and Jeffrey Ndlovu ("Dube" = "Zebra" while "Ndlovu" = "Elephant"). Hardly shall you find a guy walking around as Ndlovu Dube or Dube Thulani. That would be nonsensical.

Ok you do get the Sotho/Pedi/Tswana guys with names like Kwena Tlou (Kwena = Crocodile and Tlou = Elephant). These guys are the exception rather than the norm, and frankly, they are strange. Oh they know they are strange, but they will maintain with this weird practice because "it’s my culture" and you know how people get when their culture is under criticism. Look at people dying by the hundreds in the Eastern Cape due to botched circumcisions, and yet still the young men run to the mountains to get a taste of that blunt rusty razor on their junk. I have often wondered – is it nice? Maybe I am missing an experience here, but ok.

I digress. Let’s get back on-topic and see the advantage of white culture in the names domain. Why, it offers an unlimited number of options for a name-seeker. Anything can work. The moment some lady migrates into the country bearing some curious surname, I can appropriate such surname and give it to my newborn son. Hell, I can appropriate her whole name to make a double-barreled mouthful that will keep my little boy busy through the early grades. If she is Laura Shannon, I can name little man Shannon-Laura. If her husband is Frazer Churchill, I can name my boy Churchill-Frazer. Or Shannon Frazer. Or Frazer Laura. Can you see the permutations and combinations here? Can you see the list of possibilities? Is it me, or is the white naming culture an exercise of infinite possibilities?

As for Blacks, we easily ran out. I mean, all names were used up – we had a dire need of names. Names were in shortage. When I was in high-school I used to be share my name with three other candidates. When my mother sent a registered parcel, she had to write my name, grade, class and seat number, else the parcel would traverse through three other pairs of hands before finally reaching mine at a much, much lighter weight than the original.

Clearly, this situation was untenable.

However, Black people are clever too. Yes we are. When we saw the imminent dearth of names, we sat down under the great Tree of Kuvuki and had an Indaba. The elders were called to brainstorm. It took a wise Sage by the name of Xaba to save us. He devised a cunning plan, as follows:

You see, all Black names, as long as they are in the mother tongue, have a specific meaning. For example, I mentioned Thulani Dube earlier. Thulani has a specific meaning. It means, "Be Silent". The plan by Xaba (Xaba means "Blanket made from animal skin") was that we would convert all our names directly to their English counterparts.

Simple! Deviously hatched!

This opened up a world of possibilities for us. All verbs, nouns, adjectives, past participles, present future tenses, what-have-you, the whole lot – that became our garden of Eden, whence we could pluck a name of choice, weight it, interpret it, translate it and apply it to a child as soon as he/she popped out of the womb. Eureka.

And that is how we got our Promises (Themba), our Remembers (Khumbulani) and our Surprises (Smangaliso). We had no mercy. Like labourers bearing scythes in a field densely-populated with thin dry grass, we harvested ruthlessly.

And that is how we gained power over the white naming culture.

And that is how the Blackness of one Michael Jackson finally came out after years of being successfully repressed behind that plastic surgery. He thought we would not expose him. He did not rely on Black intuition uncovering his crafty exercise.

He named his youngest son "Blanket".

Meaning "Xaba".

Wicked ne?


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