My folks tell me that the inspiration for my first name came from South African song bird Brenda Fassie. I don’t know if that inspired my love for music but I grew up to be very protective over that name. Luckily in the back of the woods village where I grew up in, Brenda’s were few and far between. I walked proudly knowing that my name was unique and beautiful. I was not a Doreen, or Mary or Carol, names that occupied class roll calls.
I, however, did not like my middle name. Kageni. I felt it lacked spank, meaning, personality. It means a small visitor. I knew old people who had that name. I did not like it at all.
Somehow, because everyone at school called me by my first name, people in the village slowly stopped calling me by my second name, save for my grandma and a few elderly relatives.
So many years later I’m still apathetic to the name Kageni, though it is what my husband chooses to address me by. That makes it a little special. Also considering Brendas are all over the place, Kageni stands out.
But, does the name make the person, or does the person make the name? Brenda means a “flaming sword” “little raven” or “a beacon on a hill/torch”. Bree means “strength.”I like the beacon on a hill part.
How do you chose a name that will best fit your child?
When it came to naming our children, Hubs and I wanted names that have a meaning, that are beautiful, unique and that would inspire them to greatness and godliness. We googled, made lists, disagreed, prayed, finally there was consensus on at least one name in each case.
It was hard for Hubs and I to settle on second names, coming from different communities. Do we give them names from both communities? Suppose we can’t find inspiring names from one community? Also considering just how tribal Kenya had become, we didn’t want our children stereotyped along tribal identities. Wanjiru? Definitely Kikuyu. Odhiambo? You are Luo. Mwende? Kendi? Nkatha? Wafula? Kip?
We decided to go for neutral names; make our children global citizens. But those names also needed to speak of their testimony, of our prayers for them, and to prophesy into their future.
I believe names are a gift you give to your children. I love traveling, and I think in that way I live up to my name — of being a visitor.
I know an Asaph who is a musician (Asaph in King David’s time was the lead musician) and a Levi who is a pastor. Ever heard of Muthinis who are struggling with everything in life or a Munyua/Kinyua who is a drunkard. There is this former City Hall official called Kiamba who is being chased by KRA for tax evasion. In my language, kiamba is a big thief. It might be coincidence but I feel these names breathed a future into their holders.
You can’t drag the name Sifa to a brothel. You can’t be Imani and be an atheist. You can’t be Noelle and not know Christ. How do your parents call you you Wisdom and you live a life of folly?
By the way Hubs, your name means a chief, a head, so live up to greatness my handsome prince.
Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 called on Christians to choose baby names from the Bible as “an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit will allow the person to blossom in the bosom of the Church.”
We didn’t choose names from the Bible. But we chose names that breathed life and had swag. My son’s first name means “God is my strength”. That was our testimony as his parents, but was also our prayer for him- that he would always find his strength and purpose in God. His second name means “to give praise.” And the boy is musical. He could hold a tune at one year.
Our daughter’s names mean “God is gracious”, “blessed” and a “crown”. We were testifying of God’s goodness in our life, and praying that she will be a royal daughter in the King’s palace, and that she would beautify our lives and be honoured.
I am thinking that may be we should have given them names from our communities, but which bear the meaning we want them to carry. Once they become global citizens, they may want their names to proudly point back home.
“Naliaka? That’s Kenyan, yeah?”
The people in my generation seem to be thinking in a similar manner. That’s why we have the Tajis (crown), Jabali (rock), Amani (peace), Mwende (loved one), Wema/Zuri (Goodness), Fadhili (compassion), Wendo (love), Tando (love), Neema (Grace), Nia (purpose), Rehema (mercy) Nathan (God has given), Zain (beautiful), Kayla (pure), Jason (healer), Zawadi (gift), Enzo (winner/ruler), Ethan (strong), Zeke (God strengthens), Hawi (luck), Kiama (miracle), Mutoria (victor), and so on.
What are you calling your children? Are they living up to their name? God knows that child you are carrying even before he/she was formed. You can ask him what to call your baby. Don’t be surprised that he can inspire you in naming your children prophetically.
ION, if you have a powerful or inspiring name and are not living up to it, it’s time to rethink and claim the blessings your name carries.