What's in a Ugandan Name?
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:09 AM [+]
I think I've blogged before about a few of the unusual names I have come across in our dealings with folks in Uganda. For instance, one gentleman's name is "Gad" and yes, believe it or not, the "a" is pronounced as "ah" rendering the man's name homonymous with "God." (As a side I have made it a point today to both try to pronounce properly and use this word "homonymous" in context 10 times today.) I am sure you can imagine the interesting conversations and associated misunderstandings this can and has led to, especially since actually discussing "God" is something not yet taboo in the Ugandan workplace. Thus, sometimes hearing the phrase: "I need to talk to Gad about it" or "Gad told me I should..." can be quite an adventure.
Another gentleman's name is intriguing, but goes the Latin route: Deogratious. As far as I know, such names are all but non-existant in the west today. Have you met anyone named Deodatus or Duesvult or Theodosios? But those of us who are Orthodox or Catholic are certainly familiar with such names in our hagiography at least. We still do see them in our baptismal names - particularly with converts I suspect, but certainly not exclusively so. Of course the Greek versions we know well: Theophilus or Thephorus etc. I'm really not sure if you see such names being bestowed upon little Greek girls or boys these days, but if you did I think it would be difficult to imagine such usage in everyday life. that being said, for native Greek speakers I wonder if it feels odd (for example) to refer to a Bishop as "Bishop God's Friend"? (Theophilus)
Anyway, recently I have found the most unusual African name in my experience to date. The man's name is "God's Power." No Greek or Latin here, that is the man's name. I can't say for sure if the apostrophe is supposed to be there. I don't know if I'll ever meet him...but I simply must wonder if he has a nickname or what the shortened version could possibly be????