I have just finished off a slice of vanilla and cinnamon cake. It was actually going to be baked donuts in my bid to try out tasty alternatives but I didn’t get the batter consistency right and was using wholemeal flour so didn’t want to make it too floury. I think it’s because I was only supposed to use 1 egg and I used 2 then it went all a bit downhill from there. I say cake, it was more like flat bread, forgot to put the baking powder in so it didn’t rise. On the plus side, it was tasty, I used a third part white flour and two-thirds wholemeal, tbsp vanilla extract, tsp cinnamon, 4tbsp milk and those pesky eggs. I am never one to quit, I will try again, once my car is fixed and I can actually get to the store. I feel so disabled without my car. Turned on the ignition and it’s locked. I thought it was because of the wheel lock, ended up locking the steering wheel and it’s still locked. Hoping the mechanic can fix it without it costing me lots of money as I don’t need that added expense right now. I have enough to literally last me until the end of August, and that’s cutting out my usual luxuries so I am just praying for God’s divine intervention.
I was watching a programme the other day, it talked about the origins of lovers rock, it did take me back to the days when me and my girlfriends would sneak out to a house party, a guy would call you to dance, we were at the stage where I was just turning from the ugly ducklings to the beautiful swan you see now (lol). Most of the guys who came up to me were not attractive in the daylight but at that moment, the fact that he had asked me to dance I’d say yes. It meant that I would not have to style it out by walking up and down because it would look a bit odd dancing alone to slow music like a freak. But then the guy would get a bit too into the music and the dancing, you look up to his face and then think, this pimply guy with a bad hair cut is jabbing me on my upper thigh, you look up again, he looks at you, licks his lips and then time you say, er need to go to the bathroom. Well that was me anyway.
But I digress. As these guys were being interviewed two of them I observed, had Ghanaian names, Kwesi and Kwame. Now I love the fact that my Caribbean cousins are coming back to Africa and embracing their roots. One of my happiest days in Ghana was when I was able to share my experience with my best friend E. Although constraints meant we were limited in our travels she was able to take away a substantial part of not just where I am from but from where her ancestry came from. She stands proud and says she is Caribbean from Africa, and she has actually seen, breathed and experienced Ghana and you know what, I think she had a good time. I love that. When I was younger, my first experience with overt racism was with a white Polish lady. It hurt but didn’t hurt me more than my second experience was with a Jamaican lady. I was dating her son, and she could not stand me. She was ok for the first two seconds that I had walked in the door, when she found out I am from Africa, her whole demeanour changed. She didn’t even try to hide it, wait for me to mess up at something like I don’t know, use the bathroom without asking, she just switched.
There was a big divide between the African’s and the Caribbean’s in the 80s and 90s when we first started travelling in our numbers (prior to 80s there was migration from the West side, but it wasn’t really so significant). The Caribbean’s or West Indians would call African’s ‘monkeys’, the Africans would call ‘those West Indians’ ‘Slaves’, it wasn’t aggressive or violent, but it was there. Now though I am, more of my Caribbean friends are coming home, and they are enjoying it too. When I see them I am happy to share my home, my culture, my clothes, my food and even my name. However, and this is a big however, the name Kwesi, is not Dolcie and Gabanna, it is not Louis Vuitton, neither is it Christian Dior. Why do I say this, it is not a fashion accessory. I know a few African Americans and Caribbean’s who have named their children or even their names to Ghanaian names. Please don’t just pick the name because you just like it. It offends me. It doesn’t offend me that you pick the name, in fact I love it, we are finally bridging the divide that was put there by our slave masters (it only took 4 centuries, but we are finally getting there). However, you can wear the clothes, you can make money from using designing a dress out of Kenté and selling it at Selfridges, but you cannot just pick the name Kwame, Kwesi or Kwaku, just because you like it. Pick it because you have done the research, embraced the culture (fully and not just the parts that feature Azonto) and you believe in it.
I am suspected to believe that these people are changing their names to these particular names purely out of preference, because I don’t ever seem to hear anyone use the names Yaw or Kwabena. The other names seem to sound sexier so they use it. Henceforth if this is the reason, please don’t, it upsets me and it upsets the people of Ghana, if you are embracing the culture I admire you for that but it’s not beads which can be transformed into necklace for display. It is part of our history, part of our culture, and as beautiful as the names are, they should only be used once the following formula has been applied. It’s a simple formula which requires you to know the day you are born (if you don’t know, google or ghanaweb can help you). The names are literally from the akan days of the week, I know that I have spoken on this topic many moons ago, however, to recap:
Monday – Awoada (da meaning day) – (m) Kwadwo/Kojo , (f) Adwoa (pronounced Adjuua)
Tuesday – Abenada – (m) Kwabena, (f) Abenaa
Wednesday – Wukuwada – (m) Kwaku/Kweku, (f) Akua (pronounced Akweya)
Thursday – Yawada – (m) Yaw, (f) Yaa
Friday – Efiada – (m) Kofi, (f) Efia/Afia/Efua/Afua ( although the spelling is different it linguistically sounds the same)
Saturday – Memenda – (m) Kwame, (f) Ama
Sunday – Kwasiada – (m) Kwesi/Akwesi, Kwasi, (f) Akosua
The Fanti’s follow the same formula except theirs has a linguistic variation, e.g. a male born on a Friday could be named Kofi, but he may be named Fifi, a girl child born on a Wednesday may be named Kukua and a Tuesday boy child may be named Ebo and the girl child may be named Aba. However, they all follow the same formula, from a name.
Whilst doing my research on I saw that in Jamaica, they too have similar names recorded. For example Monday: Cudjoe, Tuesday Cubbennah…and so on until Sunday which is Quashee, cementing that we have more similarities with our Carribean brothers and sisters than differences.
In our culture, the name allows us to know what day of the week everyone was born. The Late Great Kwame Nkrumah, born on a Sunday, and Ghana’s own representative to the United Nations Kofi Annan born on a Friday (just like me, I know I’m destined for greatness being born on a Friday…lol).
Of course it does get a little confusing if all of your children are born on the same day. Which is why there is usually an add on, this is traditionally a name of a relative on the father’s side, or it could be the literal meaning of first born, second born etc… If I use my family as an example, we are both Efia, so my sister was given my grandmother’s name, Safoa (meaning Key).
My youngest sister on the other hand, as she was the third born girl, was named Mansa, (to complicate matters a bit further). Mansa means third born.
For a little bit of trivia before I land. Back in the days, people didn’t have family surnames like they do now. However as the world evolved and colonialism set in, people took these names and kept them as a surname which they passed on down to their children. Hence you have people whose surnames are Mensah, Annan and Essien. Annan actually comes from the word Anan, 4 (4th born child), Essian meaning 6th born child comes from the word Nsia (6), and Nkrumah (9th born child) comes from the word 9 Akron.
So as I come to land on this topic, I don’t have any issue with you changing your name to Zaire, Botswana or Kenya because you like the name. I don’t even have an issue with you changing your name or calling your child Ashanti, Kumasi or Dgbane because you like the name. I even say well done when you call your child or change your name to Yaw, Kwesi or Kofi, afterall if it wasn’t for your ancestors and mine getting shafted by a bottle of rum and shiny gunpowder and offered the mystical ride to slavery, we would all be one. My point is, there is more to the name then just the name. It’s not a fashion accessory; Ghanaian names are not the new black. They come with a history, a culture, a formula. Please use the name which was intended for you as per the criteria outlined above.
That’s all for this morning, dumsor has landed upon me humble home again and my laptop has warned me that I have mere seconds before it goes to sleep.
So I bid you good day. Thank you for reading.