Some years ago, my friend Diane and I had the pleasure of introducing ourselves, at our local coffee shop, to a man from the Ivory Coast, studying here at the University of Illinois. He was a real, live, African Chief, who had to turn over responsibility of his village to someone before coming here to finish his studies. He told of how he was frowned upon, for leaving his Mother in charge. A woman! For 4 years?!
His name was Yao.
Yao told us another story, one day, about his name, Yao. It means Thursday. He was born on a Thursday. All men born on a Thursday, at the time he was born, were named Yao.
(This next paragraph is kind of true, and kind of B.S., as I forget a lot of the particulars, and don't have time to research them. There, I said it. I'm a bimbo, so what?)
The reason for this began initially when the British (there's a detail I don't remember; was it the French? he spoke French) were essentially "drafting" the "elite" young men to come and study, and live in their country.
It seems it was something they were forced to do. Naming everyone by the day they were born, then, served to make the "promising" a bit more difficult to discern. Kind of like the star-belly sneetch story, isn't it?
Yao went on to tell me his "real" name. His "Chief" name. It was about 22 names long, and in Ivory Coast speak, revealed to the world who he really was. I remember only that part of the name translated into something like "warrior that eats raw meat."
"My name," he told me, "is a labyrinth of the history of my family, for hundreds of years." He proceeded to write out and unfold the labyrinth, while I sat dumbstruck, for several minutes.
When he was done, I told him, "My name is Lori because my Grandmother hated that name, and my father wanted to annoy her."
We sat in silence, then, while I waited out HIS dumb stare.
Finally, he said, "You ahd not seedy-ous."
Yes, I am serious, jack. In FACT, my Grandmother wanted me to be named "Starla Kay," and when I was 8 years old and found that out, I was all kinds of furious with my parents. STARla! Imagine it, what a GREAT name! Oh, GOD, I wanted to be named Starla, instead of Lori. I was all for doing whatever it took to change my name. STunning STarla STewart!
In retrospect, I'm pretty happy that my parents didn't give in to my footstomping. Starla. Starla Stewart. Stupid Starla Stewart.
Tell me about your name.
How did you come about it? Were you named after someone? Would you choose another name?
I'll sign off, then, with the alternate name I would have chosen for myself.