And we're onto a more snotless existence. (If I decide to do that Wordle cloud now, what do you think will be the leading word? Anyone?)
But I had something other than snot to say.
Back in August when I was visiting my dear friend Gringa and her incredibly awesome, happening, and lovely family (I'm not just saying that. I really mean it, and am in no way sucking up to them so that they would fit it into their plans and budget [drinks and meat are on me] to visit us here in SA... Who you calling over-the-top-obvious?) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we decided to inject the visit with a tiny dose of my hood in South Africa.
Since Johannesburg is the new Los Angeles.
What? It's not? The new what?
The new Des Moines, Iowa? Just with skyrocketing crime?
What exactly do you mean by that?
So we went to the movies, and saw District 9. Which was simply awesome, sad beyond belief, well done, thought provoking, point driven, allegorical, necessary, professional, a must see for all, and all sorts of good things all movies should always aspire to be. A movie that should definitely be seen by everyone everywhere immediately following the reading of Rian Malan's My Traitor's Heart.
I'm not shoving anything down anyone's throat here, but if I were you...
Then, this morning, I went to take a shower and started thinking about the name of the main character in the movie: Wikus van de Merwe. And about what I had told my friends in the States about it. That it was the quintessential Boer name. A Boer John Smith, Matti Virtanen, Yung Li, Lars Jensen, or Luis Hernandez. This is what I was told, at least.
Okay, so he is the everyman. As he should have been to further the message of the movie. I thought it was a nice touch, to hammer the point home. For South Africans at least.
And then, as I reached for the weird mineral shampoo which I'm allergic to, but that makes my hair feel and look oh-so-good-and-spiky, I had a thought.
What if your name wasn't quintessentially anything. Or even remotely anything. Or even close to anything to do with names.
How would you like to be called Vacation, Innocent, Cornie, Knowledge, Darkey, Wisdom, Doctor, Elvis, Nice, or Happiness as some of the people in my daily sphere are? What if instead of a name the meaning of which has long since become the last mention in the dictionary, your name was Fortune Prosperous Smith? Would you be able to make it in the business world if your business card read Vacation Freedom Johnson? Would you be more likely to strain for Medical School if your parents already named you Doctor, or would Dr. Doctor Williams just be a tad over the top?
I have always been interested in names, and have studied them quite a bit in my previous life, especially in relation to American slavery. And I've been very interested in the at-times flaring up discussion in South Africa over renaming locations: towns, counties, streets, etc with old names that are far too reminiscent of the horrors of Apartheid.
In fact, I live in Egoli, in the proud nation of Mzanzi.
I like to think I understand the power of names and naming. Especially in cultures in or derived from Africa.
I strongly believe that a person can overcome their name, but also that a name can lead and help a person. I believe that there is a suggestive power to names, but also that names are gifts that need to be accepted and then made our own by imbuing them with our personality.
It is obvious that some of the parents of the previously named individuals, most of whom are children, and like the parents of one of the most famous African American authors of all time Ralph Ellison who was named after the poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, are attempting to pave the way for their children. To give them something to strive after, a constant reminder. A new beginning in a nation where they have equal opportunity.
But I'm left wondering.
Where do poor Vacation, Cornie, and Darkie fall in all of this? What was the initial thinking behind their names? Will they own their names, or be weighed down by them, or never even give their names a second thought?
Let's pretend that this is a rose, and attempt upon that quote that is about the name of the rose and how it still stinks the same even if you call it a sunflower. Or a skunk even. Or not.