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What’s in a name part 2?

Written By: aaminahm on May 1, 2009 9 Comments

I was born Shanga Nomusa White.  Everyone called me Nomusa. Nomusa is Zulu for with grace or kindness. I didn’t realize until I was much older that I was named after my father whose name is Musa. Musa is Arabic for Moses. He changed his name when he converted to Islam. I, followed suit.

Well, actually I changed my name several times. When I started Kindergarten my Mom asked me if I wanted to be called Shanga or Nomusa at school. I chose Shanga because, at the tender age of 5 I had the sneaking feeling that my name would be ridiculed. Probably because I was already being teased by my family members and friends. I distinctly remember being called Nomusa the moose over and over again.

The first problem with Shanga, a feminization of Shongo, the Yuroba God of thunder, was the spelling. Teachers and students, and telephone operators, and bank tellers, and airline ticket handlers, and other random strangers would pronounce my name “Shaynga”. I didn’t have the heart to correct them. Besides, it was better than moose.

The other problems I had with my full name were that it was completely African except for my last name, and with grace or kindness didn’t match up too well with goddess of thunder.  I hated telling people my name meant goddess of thunder, especially when they’d say “Oh your name is so pretty what does it mean?” The final problem with Shanga is that I felt like that name didn’t fit my personality.

As I got older, I learned to speak up for my name, and make sure that it was pronounced correctly. I also try to be very careful with pronunciations of others’ names because I know how it feels to have my name mispronounced. When I converted to Islam, I decided to take the opportunity to change my name.  Besides the other problems I had with my name, I wasn’t comfortable being named after a goddess in another religion.

I had trouble finding a name that I liked. I picked three different names and asked my husband to make the final selection. He picked the name Aaminah. I chose the spelling because I thought it was cool. My name begins with AA so I am  always first on people’s phone lists. That is only problematic when they forget to put their cell phones on lock. I have gotten several random calls at 2 in the morning. I always say, “It’s a good thing you weren’t talking bad about me” because nine times out of ten they are in the midst of a conversation when they accidentally call me.

Aaminah means someone you can believe in or a woman of peace and harmony. In the end, Aaminah and Nomusa aren’t too far apart from each other.  Grace, peace, harmony, kindness, these are all good aspirations. I think a good name contains a virtue that we can aspire to, has a ring to it, and fits your personality.  That’s a lot of pressure on the person or people responsible for name selection. It’s a big responsibility because the name has to stick with you for the rest of your life. That is of course, unless your a goddess of thunder with grace or kindness that has emerged as a woman of peace and harmony that you can believe in.

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9 Responses to “What’s in a name part 2?”

  1. Youki on: 2 May 2009 at 2:46 am

    how interesting! I’ve never known myself as anything other than “Youki” but I wonder what name I’d pick if I had to choose a different one. The sound of a G string being plucked on a guitar? What if, instead of your name meaning “Yuroba God of Thunder” your name was the sound of thunder itself? You can tell people, “My name is KKKOOOOOOOOGHGHGHGHHRHHGHRHHGHHRHH!!!” and see how they’d react.

    I once joked with my wife that it would be cool to call our future kids “Theo” and “Phil.” No, not Theodore and Philip. Theory and Philosophy! har har. I was like 82% kidding. I wouldn’t name my kid Theo cause of the chipmunks.

  2. Usree Bhattacharya on: 2 May 2009 at 11:21 am

    Very cool, Aaminah B.!Heh!

    And youki…theo and phil…I LOVE it! I have always liked the name Shenehi for my future daughter…derived from the Sakskrit for “slow.”

    Ha ha ha ha.

  3. aaminahm on: 2 May 2009 at 7:02 pm

    I don’t know about changing my name again but, KKKOOOOOOOGHGHHHRGHHGRGHRHHGHHRHH sounds like a great nickname lol! I think I might like it as much as Aaminah bind. Theory, Philosophy, and Shenehi sound like really cool kids. I can’t wait to meet them :P. Love,
    P.S. I need to get the spelling down. Can we call me KOGRHGH for short?

  4. Usree Bhattacharya on: 2 May 2009 at 7:26 pm

    oh, i see! i was wondering on facebook!!!!! aaminah bind is a classic, u can’t mess with a classic.

    you’ll always be aaminah bind to me, honey.


  5. aaminahm on: 2 May 2009 at 7:38 pm

    You’re right Aaminah bind is a classic! I told my husband and we laughed so hard. But you have to admit KORGHRH has a ring to it right Cookie!

  6. Usree Bhattacharya on: 2 May 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Hey, Ummm, It DOES have quite a ring to it…definitely. Kinda rolls around in your tongue and then…gets stuck, until you kinda gargle it out. We’ll keep that as a stand by, how’s that????
    Glad your husband approves!!!! 🙂

  7. Usree Bhattacharya on: 2 May 2009 at 7:43 pm

    KORGHRH and Cookie: we should fight crime!

  8. aaminahm on: 2 May 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Fo Sho- we’ll be a crime fighting duet on television and fb! Hilarious!

  9. Usree Bhattacharya on: 2 May 2009 at 11:09 pm

    hyuk! you know who we’re gonna go after first? 😉

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