CIKU'S BEEFS: Are you happy with your first name?

Friday January 29 2016

Naming your child is a really big deal. Once

Naming your child is a really big deal. Once you make a list, you fight with your spouse over it because they have their own version of what they want. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By Ciku Muiruri
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Naming your child is a really big deal. Once you make a list, you fight with your spouse over it because they have their own version of what they want. Some make it easier on themselves and name the kid after their parents, or perhaps the season the kid was


Regardless of what science goes into choosing a name, the kid will probably hate it and call himself or herself something different one day. 

You want the name to be unique so you spend hours scouring the Internet for exotic-sounding names that mean something nice. You will find names that translated mean “beautiful flower” or “angel” and excitedly name your child, only to find (once you have enrolled them into kindergarten) that at least three other folks had the same idea and visited the same name websites that you did.

On day one of school you find that three kids in the same class are named “beautiful flower”. So you adjust and now the beautiful flower is supplemented with an initial to differentiate them and it’s just not the same, is it?

Disappointed, you revert to their ethnic name.

You know the people I admire most? The ones who never gave their kids only their ethnic. You know me as Ciku Muiruri but I have an English/Christian name given to me at birth. The last journey of the colonial mentality.

Why does a Christian name have to be foreign? Whenever I leave my ID somewhere or give my passport to an immigration officer, they always call out this name that sounds as foreign to my ears for lack of use as it is for actually being so.

I don’t use it. I dropped it 20 years ago. But our government and the world at large only feel comfortable if you have an English/Christian name that is by default your first name. It is never, ever, considered the middle name. Why I wonder? What is wrong

with Ciku (short for Wanjiku)? Why can’t it be my first name?

The progressive among us should stop giving in to the pressure of feeling that they must give foreign names to their  kids. Give them ethnic ones and happily watch the immigration guy in some country struggle to pronounce it.

That’s his problem, not yours.

The Chinese and Russians don’t bother saddling themselves with Western names… Why do we? Wait. To make it easier for Westerners to pronounce them. It’s all about them, not us. Remember Roots?

Slave Master: “Say your name is Toby…” Slave: My name is Kunta. Kunta Kinte. A whipping. Another whipping. And another one...

Slave Master: “Say your name is Toby.” Slave (Having been whipped to within an inch of his life): My name is Toby.  There’s a hilarious story on the Internet about some girl whose co-worker told her that he could not bother to learn how to pronounce her

name because those ghetto names all sounded the same to him. For the next few months she retaliated by referring to him by different names (other than his own) because, as she told him, those white names all sounded the same to her.

Her co-workers joined in and started calling him different names as well. Sick of it, he finally approached her, called her by her correct name and ended the Wrong Name War. Nicely done. Wanjiku was one of the nine daughters of man and his wife (Gikuyu

and Mumbi) the ancestors of  the Agikuyu people. It means bumper harvest. I’m quite happy with it and proud of its rich history. And although I’m always forced to place it as my middle name on official forms, to me it’s my first and only name.

What’s yours?