What’s In a Name?

Post a Comment » Written on August 20th, 2012     
Filed under: Message, News & Updates, Travel
Written by Reesheda Washington

Names are sometimes insignificant and treated as such. Sometimes we can trivialize names as simply what one calls us in an effort to gain our attention. After all, we have to be called something. However, during my time in Karawa, I have come to learn that names can be large reservoirs used to carry much cultural history, family legacy, and personal responsibility.

As I listened to names being passed about amongst the villagers in Karawa, the name “Fiokona” seemed somewhat prevalent in the region. I began to wonder about the significance of this name, so I asked our translator what the name “Fiokona” means. The translator shared with me that the name is from the Mbaka tribe/language,and he introduced me to a wonderful gentleman named Llewolo. Llewolo is Mbaka and speaks both Mbaka and Lingala. The translator was gracious enough to translate a dialogue between me and Llewolo, that I might uncover “what’s in a name.”

Llewolo shared with me that the name “Fiokona” means “died in the hands of a mother.” He said that the name would be given to the next child a mother had after one died. Llewolo told me that his name actually means “filling a hole in the earth.” His mother gave him this name, as he had been born after a brother who had passed away. I asked Llewolo if his name had made him feel any more responsible or accountable to his mother or other family members to “carry” his family. Llewolo shared that he had not thought much about it until he had his first son, and sadly, the baby did not live.

It was then that he felt the significance of “Llewolo,” filling a hole in the earth. Llewolo and I shared a somber silence for a moment. After a while, I asked Llewolo, given the circumstances, did he think he would carry on this tradition of naming when he and his wife had their next child. When I asked this question, Llewolo’s face lit up, and he spoke very quickly! The translation of what followed was news to be celebrated! Llewolo and his wife had just delivered a baby boy about two weeks prior to our discussion! The proud father shared that he had decided to put a positive twist on this tradition.

Instead of having his newly born son be named after the baby who died, Llewolo made the decision to name his baby boy after one who represents life! Llewolo’s baby boy, Jules Mboka, is named after the president of the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM). Llewolo is inspired and admires President Mboka quite a lot. So much so that his son is now the CEUM President’s namesake! This new twist on an old tradition of how one names a child in Congo is one filled with hope for the future – a sign of the times facing the Equateur Province as many partnering organizations begin working together for a better tomorrow for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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