What Is the Measure of A Name?

Šherida: The Goddess of light, sexual love, and wisdom.

I've been thinking about names lately. My own in particular. After a little family tiff last year, I was so sure that I no longer wanted my last name and was taking steps to have it replaced. Now that I no longer want that, I've been mulling much deeper into my identity and what my names mean. Of course it could be noted that I'm reading entirely too much in this. But I always read too much into things - unfortunately, it's how I am.

As a Ghanaian, being named after a day is something you're automatically enrolled into. I

f you were born on a certain day there'd be no question that you would be named after that day. It's not something that is relayed to you for your permission, like on a birth certificate or on a passport. It just is. So when someone asks me if I have a middle name, I say no, because technically it isn't a middle name. As I awkwardly make my way to being a full blown 'adult', my family have been calling me by my Akan name more and more. I don't know if it has something to do with my maturity levels or am becoming more comfortable with speaking Twi outside my family, but I enjoy people calling me by my Akan name. It is endearing to me. This is why I've been thinking to just go by my Akan name! Akosua-Bemmah. I don't know how I'd go about it, but it's something I'd really like to do. Or alternatively, I'd love to use this name as Pseudonym.

 

 

As I said in the beginning of this post, I'm thinking more about names and meanings attached to it. My name Sherida (Alternatively 'Aya'in the root Mesopotamian) for example, is an Arabic name with precise connotations, one of them being The Sun-god Utu's divine spouse .'Šherida', according to good old Wikipedia"was associated with youth, sexual love and marriage and was referred to as `The Bride'". 

Fancy huh? By the sound of this name, I ought to be a sexual therapist somewhere in Iraq called Madame Sherida (which, with experience wouldn't sound too bad of an idea: [pun intended]). It's interesting how people's personalities, attitudes or life events sometimes perfectly match up to their names. Like have you ever thought someone fitted their name perfectly? Conversely, have you ever told someone they looked like they should be called something else? I do it all the time. About four years ago, I called this woman at my old church 'Maria' and thought she was from Barcelona for about 2 years, this was until until someone informed me that she was not called 'Maria' and not from Barcelona. Her name Anna and she was from Czech Republic. [Hashtag Awkward].

Of course, a lot of the times it has to do with racial and cultural stereotypes and assumptions of certain names being ascribed to certain economic classes. I think back to all the times I have told people my name and their facial expressions change instantly. It goes a little like this; 'Sherida, oh wow, what a different name - So, where are you from? Holland? wooow really? But where are you really from? Ah Ghana, yeah, nice place that. So do you have an ethnic name?' At this point, I have already made the conclusion that the opposite party is stupid and doesn't have an ounce of courtesy to realise that the questioning of my name, thereby my identity is not how to make new friends. 

So I'm forced to think back to my Ghanaian name, my more "ethnic" name, the one people always try to pry out of me.

 It's not that I don't find my Ghanaian name attractive, I adore it. it's that I have to think of the logistics of having people destroy my name when trying to utter it. I have no love for nicknames either, especially from people that aren't my close friends or family. The idea of having to shorten my name from Akosua-Bemmah to something along the lines of 'Ako', 'Kos', 'Kossy', 'Bem', 'Bemmy', 'AkoBem' is a revolting thought. I already have a problem with people shortening my name from Sherida to 'Sheri'. Why then would I then go and publicise my Ghanaian name only to have it killed verbally? I suppose it's my protective nature, to protect what I find precious. So it is this then, I reserve my Ghanaian name to those who I think can pronounce it and do it justice, and sadly leave my goddess name; Sherida, to be sacrificed and butchered. 

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