Call them by their correct name

by Gavin  

Call them by their correct name

Do you like it when someone mispronounces your name?  Hmmm… Or just fails to call you by name because it is too mong, too hard or too complicated?

 

In preparing for last Sunday’s final reflections on the race issue, I was helped by an article by a blogger in Cape Town who I know from many year ago at Baptist youth camps…  I cannot claim originality, and need to give credit where credit is due for the thoughts contained herein…

 

http://brettfish.co.za/2016/05/27/dont-dare-let-give-easier-name/

 

Well, let’s pick up on the issue like this:

 

Martin Luther King wrote some telling statements in his powerful, insightful and moving “Letter from Birmingham Jail” :

 

“…when your first name becomes “Nigger,” your middle name becomes “Boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments…”

 

The point is simple – the very fact that people’s names are dropped or altered is actually offensive. It is demeaning. That could push the boundaries of what is actually ethically rude… Tweaking, adjusting, shortening or just dropping names which are difficulty.

 

Luther King’s point hold true in South Africa as well, right? The prevalence might be less today that decades ago, but do we still not hear of middle-ages “girls” who work in homes, and elderly “boys” who work in gardens? Coupled with that, easy-to-say Anglicised names are the order of the day, as ethnic names are dropped to make it easy for white, English-speaking employers to pronounce.

 

Is this not rude? And while “rude” in Scripture includes all offensive behaviour, we could make a case that just dropping, tweaking or altering ethnic names we struggle with, could be a sign of rudeness…

 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude…” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5a, ESV)

 

Maybe this is a real practical measure to work on. I accept that at times it might be difficult to get our tongues around certain names with nuances and clicks. But surely some attempt should be made to actually get the names of people accurate and right?

Sure it is hard to an English speaker… I can’t get my tongue around certain sounds naturally, and some languages are more difficult that others (isiXhosa with the clicks).

But surely we should try in conversations, the home and church meetings etc…

 

For example, our church gardener’s name… Mbuso is really easy… but it is not Muso, or Buso or Ozo… or worse still, Busa.

 

One of our young people in the high school ministry is Simpiwe. But he called himself Karabo for a long time. Until we questioned it. Seems he figured Karabo was easier for whities to say, and so he changed his name. Sad. How many of our black folk actually do that because they are tired of having their names slaughtered?

 

I thought I was styling for a long time with another young person, Nqobile Mutavhatsindi. Seems my attempts at the inherent click failed, and I needed some lessons on correct pronunciation. But at least she didn’t make it Susie or Anna.

 

Sure, this might take some effort… but we manage OK with names like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. We know that the Sioux Indians are not the “Si-ox.” “Aah-kan-sis” is mostly got right when we talk USA towns. Makhado is even easier than Louis Trichardt, right?

 

So then, why not love people and respect them by a serious attempt to get their ethnic names correct?

 

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