The best start a child can ever hope for in its life is a good first name. A fitting name that corresponds to the gender, and that inspires hope or anything. Maybe something normal like Stephen or Lisa. In Zimbabwe though names are taken to the other end of normality. Choosing a distinct, unique and individual name is quite common. Choices come from the strangest places. Television, usable products or fictional characters.
But in the end they keep producing distinct names and all of them are quite proud of their unique names. In the end most of the people who have and give those names are bilingual, English being their second language. So the names they give don’t have such a strong meaning to the society at large as those who might think it totally out of left field, (“Left Field” doesn’t sound like a bad name at all) to have a unique name and also to give one. So these strange names are quite normal in Zimbabwe and you would only think twice about why that name if you were an outsider.
Just think of all the unique names you’ve heard out there from native speakers:- Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily, Moonbeam (common amongst hippies), and Harper Seven (the name Seven was probably inspired by Seinfeld to name a few.
The standard of naming is the first name in English and a second given name in a local Zimbabwean language. Sometimes the name in the local language is also from left field.
Muchaneta- you will get tired
Japera- we have finished
Maideyi- what did you want
And from English
Nevermore- the parents gave this name because they didn’t want to have any more children
Princess Diana Chirapa
This native Zimbabwean summed up exactly the reasoning by the naming system in the country.
Zimbabweans seem to have a complex that the better English you speak the more educated you are, they are contemptuous of people who cannot speak the Queen’s language fluently. So I think for us it follows that English names mean sophistry and intelligence of both our parents who named us and also for us the children, who carry those strange names like crowns on their heads.
I have one name, an Ndebele one (that is my tribe), but I often get people asking me if I do not have another one. The feeling I get is these people are just not satisfied with just one indigenous name, I need to have an English so I can fit in.
A cursory glance will reveal that most people with such names actually grew up in rural names and a person who attempted to speak or was at least fluent in English was exalted in that area. A one eyed man in the land of the blind, if you like.
So a child with an English name, never mind (that word again) how ludicrous it was, was seen as the child of sophisticated parents. As for urban folk, really am still trying to get a reason why their children would have some of the strangest names on this planet
This is the best article I found on names and reasons behind the names. Click here to read more
If you talk to any Zimbabwean they are quite attached to their names, and are all proud of them. And to some from areas that don’t speak a lot of English, an English name is quite noble, no matter what it is or means.
Anyone out there thought of calling your child Poindexter, Efkakar, or how about even “Flatulence”? And what about surnames, has any German speaker put any thought into the ambiguous meaning of Bayern footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger’s name?