Men's say with Bob G. Kisiki
You have friends and family, don’t you? And some are parents, yeah? Especially parents of little children, barely above six years of age. Those are the people I am talking about today.
The mothers of those little abused children. The mothers who usually pick the non-clan names for those poor babies.
There was a time when, I am told, the full name of a child was determined either exclusively by the man or, at the very least, by both parents of the child. Indeed a few couples still do that.
They realise something has settled in the womb, so they draw a table: Boy — list possible names. Girl — list desired names. Boy-boy — draw name list. Girl-girl… and Boy-Girl. So by the time the baby/babies come, the name is sorted out.
However, in many cases now, the women pick what I have referred to as the non-clan names. I guess for our Muslim brethren, it might be different, seeing as Islam does not seem to have much room for fancy, off-the-telly names.
But the generically termed ‘Christian’ lot! Your wife is in the family way. She is admitted in the labour ward. You begin the trips, from home to hospital, to the grocery shop and to the pharmacy.
On return from one of these rounds, as you approach her hospital room, you hear the expected, exciting wail of a newborn baby, and you can’t help breaking into a trot to get to the room faster.
Then you get there, and hear your woman’s groggy voice pleading with the new-born baby: Wiwi, please suckle. Or, Lulu, mummy loves you... Gigi, Shisha, Lala, the lot. Freeze!
If the child is not named like an illustration on an alphabet chart, then it will be one of those names meant to induce a certain attribute in the child, like prettiness (Pretty), piety (Divine) or meekness (Humble).
Oh yes, women are calling their children all those adjectives, and worse. I know a family where the children are named after music concepts.
The first one is Melody (which, you must admit, is quite melodious), the second is Medley (a string of related songs sung back-to-back with no break) and the last one (at least by the time I lost interest) is… you wouldn’t guess even when allowed 10 years of only Mondays… Music. Bleak!
When we were growing up in rural Busoga and Buganda, women then found ways of grafting ‘battlefield’ names onto the official name of a specific child. Battlefield, because these women (like many today) never ran out of people to conflict with. So she called a child ‘Kirikumwino’ (Lusoga for what concerns someone else, is what you find easy to broadcast.
Proverbial name). Others were Tibasiima (they are ingrates), Kibikyo (another proverbial one, admitting that better you have your own ugly child than another woman’s pretty one), and Tibaiguta (they never stop eating).
Now, now! People, do you see this the way I do? Those parents expect their children to grow up being called Wiwi, sijui Looloo, Humorous and the good Lord Himself knows what else.
Or those terrible names meant to hit at someone you dislike. So every time you call the child, your co-wife, or husband, or neighbour’s wife, is supposed to feel terrible; which sometimes causes interminable battles nobody can solve, since the cause is not that direct.
Don’t you sympathise with the child? And that also goes for some of the short or petty forms of those children’s names. I was neighbours with a family where a little girl called Penninah was called Pen, even to her school days.
If Penny, the more acceptable short form, is not that innocent, how can you go one worse, and call your child by the tool she will be using in class? Pen? Another is Beat (and when her peers and teachers follow the instruction, you insult the teachers).