Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why do we black Africans give ourselves Mzungu names?

How many wazungus do you know that are called Otieno, Mwangi, Kipkoech et al? I can understand that there was that thing in the past about trying to sound Christian, but I am fairly sure the good book says it’s not by works it’s by faith. Some diasporians say that without European sounding names they won't get jobs abroad. Don't think so because Ngugi wa Thiongo is a professor in California. And look at some of those of footballers.

So is it an inferiority complex vis a vis wazungus?


Tamtam said...

I think it is true, there was an article in one of the papers here in London. Some Black people from West Africa,had a hard time at work, because of their names.

naserian said...

i think that as africans we should be proud of our african names because they are very unique.i personally dropped my english name when i was in primary shool and my husband and son have african names.they are not names we should be ashamed of as they show our heritage and pride in who we are.
if no one can pronounce them properly i believe that is theie problem and not mine,even europeans have hard names that sometimes cannot be pronouncedbut they do not change for the sake of others so why should we

Maishinski said...

Commercial Reasons:

Jet Li's real name is "Li Jian Jie" (or something of the sort).

Fortunately for him, he is able to use 2 names (a screen name for his western career + his cultural name in Hong Kong).

Many Asians aspiring to work in the west have modified their names to Pro Western sounding names in response to Western rigidity and suspicion of other cultures.

The chinese actually came up with a good trick of providing "English Translation" of their names - hence allowing their people to use genuine chinese names when at home - and Foreign names when abroad.

I thinks Ethiopians can pull this off too (if their passport is in both English and Amharic).

As part of Constitutional reforms Kenyan should adopt a dual naming system in Official Documents (ID / Passport) where people can have the option of having a Purely African name - with an optional translation to a foreign version of choice.

Imagine this:

African Name: Mtu Fulani
Translation: David Thompson

Rule to state that "Mtu Fulani" be the name for all official correspondence while in Kenya.

However person has option to use "translated name" when making deals abroad in order to break cultural / stereotypical /prejudicial barriers.

Hence when applying for a job abroad.. the familiar sounding "David Thompson" gets a friendly and favorable response.

Everyone's happy. Problem solved.