“Wabasikelela uThixo, wathi kubo uThixo, Qhamani, nande, niwuzalise umhlaba niweyise; nibe nobukhosi ezintlanzini zolwandle, nasezintakeni zezulu, nasezintweni zonke eziphilileyo ezinambuzelayo emhlabeni.”
Today, on a random Thursday which is not heritage day (the day we seem to reserve for such reflections), I am thinking about our names as Africans.
My name, Sandisiwe means we have been multiplied. It is an agreement with, and celebration of Genesis 1:28, where God commands Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. So my family joined in this eternal celebration of multiplication by naming me the fulfillment of this command.
My family has always affectionately called me Siwe. A nickname I have coopted for use in my outside life, including corporate. I decided to go by Siwe because it feels easier to say and remember. And Sandisiwe just led to weird nickname variations, so I chose the nickname I was familiar with for people myself. However, my recent ponderings on the naming traditions of Xhosa people have had me questioning this glib and nonchalant way of allowing myself to be called. Xhosa names are sentences. Sacred commands and celebrations of fulfilled prayers and promises. Shouting songs of praise for blessings. Hallowed clicks with no patience for untrained tongues.
We are poetic and lyrical in how we name, clothing instructions in names. Names disguising odes and commands. Names that make the tongue bend, buckle, and bow in reverence. We praise with our names. Qhamani nande (my name is a variation taken from this) – an instruction directly taken from Genesis 1:28 to be fruitful and multiply. Liyabona iliso likaYehova – the eye of the Lord sees even when situations feel bitter and gloomy. Sibabalwe ngesisipho – we have been blessed with this gift, no matter what else we may be experiencing. Lathitha ilanga – and there! So brightly appeared the sun.
I hope many of us who have opted for the offhanded way of just shortening our names so they’re “easier” and “simpler” to say, may remember why our people name the way they do. And take that heritage with us to whatever space we find ourselves in.
My name is Sandisiwe, which means we have been multiplied. Have been fertile, fruitful and productive. May that be who I am and what I bring to every space I enter.
Praise the lyricists.
Iimbongi clothing instructions in names.
Names disguising odes and commands to fruitfulness.
And amplify something bigger.
Names as shouting and eternal celebrations of productivity and fertility.
Hallowed clicks with no patience for unlearned tongues.
Names that stand tall,
And command effort.
Names that make the tongue bend, buckle and bow in reverence.
We praise with our names.
Prophesy that fruitfulness shall amplify
Envision and erect new realities with words
Invade the future
Be more. Be better. Be larger.
Multiply the best parts of us. The foliage of our heritage.
Sizokwazi ukutsho ngebhongo ukuba Sandisiwe.
Praise the lyricists.