I remember asking my father why they gave me an English name, he chuckled and said I could always just stick to my first name.

Growing up when teachers struggled to pronounce my African name, they would resort to using my English name; that did not sit well with me and I was yet to learn about how our people were forced to take on such names so the system could notice them. I would deliberately ignore them because something did not feel right about them using it the way they did. I also did not like how they mispronounced our surnames, and expected respect to pour from our desks? Weird much. From my primary years up until secondary I had to deal with this. However, I decided to take a stand in grade 9 when my parents were filling up my forms to remove my second name to avoid having to deal with ignorant teachers who don’t want to learn the names of their students. This was the first step in the right direction, my next was to teach them how to pronounce my name and surname without sounding like they had four gallons of ginger beer. I have always been a proud daughter of the soil, learning about BCM and Pan Africanism sparked a flame in me that is still burns till this day. My understanding matured over the years and instead of coming across as a woke person who does not want this slave name, I asked my mother about it, when she told me who inspired the name I felt honored but violated because in my head they could have given me a different one. 22 years down the line, here I am penning this down with the hopes of dealing with the confusion I kept on swimming in.

My first name was given to me by my mother, however one of the elders from my father’s side completed it for me and I fell in love with my full name and not the shortened version. Not to say my mom did me bad she was on the right path, and when it came to my second name according to my parents; they gave it to me because they wanted to keep my grandmother’s legacy alive despite the fact that she is still alive, I obviously struggled to process this because the reasoning lacked substance in my eyes. While on my spiritual journey I was introduced to different reasons and I must say, I am glad I never went to remove a name that was divinely given to me by the angels who prompted my father and his mom to give me that name. At times we may laugh and bash these names, but when you actually do give yourself time to understand why and how you were given the names; your view changes drastically so.

My names carry so much weight, my parents may not understand the spirituality behind them but they did try to school me and I appreciate them for that. My first name, Asandamaswazi is unique and beautiful if you ask me – the meaning behind it is also one that aligns with the second name which was inspired by St Emily, it took time for me to understand this but when it all clicked; I was all over the place kissing my walls jumping, like SpongeBob whenever a successful crabby patty is received well.

As the first born daughter to both of my parents, both these names speak to the responsibility I have and the role I am to play in the family, they speak to my character and certain traits I have that make me the unique being I am.

St Emily is known as the mother of saints, as she was a caregiver, a leader, a teacher, and a mother to everyone around her. She devoted her life to serving God and her people in a way that benefitted them, she was never one to judge people but rather help them and love them without expecting a thing in return, she stood her ground and remained unshaken when her father began to act funny because of the woman she was becoming, he never really gave himself time to understand her but she never let this sway her from doing what she felt called to do. St Emily was blessed with 10 children, 5 followed her path. I also got to understand why it did not feel right when teachers used the name, they had no right in my opinion and unfortunately thought they were justified and protected by the system. Which has always been an enemy to my kind.

Asandamaswazi signals growth is coming to the family the how remains a mystery to others and you who is reading this- some things are way too sensitive to share right? In the same breath before you ridicule your name, I would propose you look into it and dive deeper, nothing is ever a mistake. I do carry the traits of St Emily, whose character is not so different to that of my paternal grandmother and my great grandmother from my mother’s side of the family.

Before you come for your parents, consult the elders and seek for their wisdom. They may have the answers you seek. Your name and your purpose in this life are not far from one another.


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