What’s in a Name!

Sometimes back a group of us were idling away time over tea when we heard three guys on a nearby table locked in a passionate debate. (Well, the way they structured their ideas and the passion behind their give and take could be nothing like small talk or conversation but a full blown debate!) The gents must have been anywhere close to their prime and you know what they were debating about? Names! “Debating about names of all issues in the country and elsewhere?” Yes, indeed.

Well their being sort of veterans them talking about names might not be a front page headline. But since they enjoy talking about names, who is anyone to tell them otherwise? By the way these days, maybe because almost every other think the seat at the head of the table is ours and ours only we try to set agendas for others. “What’s wrong with them talking about sports when there are numerous political, social and economic issues to talk about?” Hey anyone who thinks sports isn’t also about those three is missing a lot. Especially the trend seems to be that globally biased and divisive politics is tainting sports. When the world thought the era of the Olympic boycotts is over for good; look when followed the Russia-Ukraine war.

Tens of thousands of Russian sportsmen and women are kicked out of almost all international events for no crime of their own but because of sheer politics. So it wouldn’t be fair to say sport isn’t about politics. Look at the money footballers and other sportsmen and women make. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, euros, pounds a week! Even in our own country there were times we heard of footballers making two hundred plus grand a month!) Look at the profit/loss books of teams. So it wouldn’t be fair to say sport isn’t about economics. Look at the forced social alienation the Russian sportsmen and women suffer as their chances of meeting and engaging with other sports personalities and the larger global community has been closed and bolted tight. So it wouldn’t be fair to say sport isn’t about social issues.

Anyways I’m not sure how I went into all that. Yes, we were talking about many of trying to set agendas on which others could converse and argue about while we, the e agenda-setters are nowhere near.

So these threesome were talking about names. Their debate wasn’t about who came from where and anything like that. By the way given the things we see and hear we could be pardoned for thinking as such. Many are tired of those who attempt to tie each and every issue with who came from which part of the country. They raise various names and each time, only God knows what measuring scales they were using, they put words like “Best;” “Good;” “Bad,” and more. The thing here was that there were absolutely no supporting points each time they put a certain name up on the golden pedestal or shredded it beyond recognition. And it was without the crucial supporting argument being there that they were ‘rating.’ Now earlier I said the ‘who came from where’ curse which immobilizes any legitimate and civilized discussion wasn’t there. Well, though I still prefer to hold to that, I’ve to confess you can’t miss the tint of ethnic bias and ignorance here and there. Hmmm… But the gents were very careful not to sound as such, and only those natural reflexes on which we’ve little or no control created the threat of derailing the passionate debate.

Years back there was this trend of Europeanizing Ethiopian names especially, it’s safe to say, among the females. I mean things were so out of control suddenly you started hearing more Suzy, Betty, than ….! Aha! If you think I’m going to mention Ethiopian names and put myself in the firing line well, I’ve to tell you that I might not be the smartest dude around, but I’m neither that dumb. Now names usually create some sort of strong emotions in us probably when we associate them with actual persons.

“So, what name did you give your son?”

”We named him…”

“What! Are you people crazy! That’s the name of that notorious torturer who brought so much pain and suffering to our village. And you give your innocent son that name!” Believe me such things happen. There’s the trend that forces us to relate names with actual persons living or otherwise. Parents gave their children names of the singers and entertainment personalities they liked, historical figures they admired and famous fictional figures. I have yet to hear parents naming their son ‘Shylock;’ Ha! It isn’t fair at all! While the Stalins and Ho Chi Minhs thrive that the Shylocks and Iago’s are ignored isn’t fair at all! (Whatever I’m trying to say I’m trying to find out!) Look no denying names various create emotions; but I don’t think tying names to past or present personalities who aren’t known for good behaviors is a little off track. In that case, believe me and nine out of ten names would probably fail. Somewhere, sometime there might have been some notorious person bearing your name. So what!

Having said all that there is one fact we can’t just throw under the bed. These days names are so crucial they could make or break your day. Many of us deliberately or missing the most important cells in our user names for all wicked purposes; to hurt people for whatever reason. It’s no secret there are a lot of instances where your name might open doors widely for you, or slam them in your face! It could be that bad that up. On the flip side of the coin you might get benefits which you don’t deserve just because of your name. Such things, believe me happen on almost all levels and in most places. We can only hope reason and rationality would soon win the day and names would just remain names.

Never found out how the debate of those seniors wound up.

Ephrem Endale  Contributer

The Ethiopian herald May 26/2024


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