While I was in South Africa, Jo’burg to be precise, most of the locals mistook me to be from the Swana tribe and others pronounced my name as “Mbabane” (like the capital city of Swaziland).
All the same, this proved the fact that, most of the African people must have a common ancestry! It quite amazing how international The Villager is becoming; if for any or no reason of my own, you no longer see me on this column, it will be because I have been absorbed and assimilated by another nation.
Unlike the guys at school (in Ug) who used to make fun of my name, I hope no one else will be making fun of me anymore! It is amazing as to how many times I have had to explain why I am called what I am called. Is there anything much in the name?
I thought it was merely an identification of someone or something or someplace, eh! I have laboured to explain the meaning and source of my name, many have ridiculed me while others have understood it and yet others have deliberately refused to understand it. After all, what is in the name? Some say that, a bad name brings bad calamities.
I have so many friends from the “savedees “fraternity, many have shed their names in preference to the nicely sounding ones like, “Nsengiyumva”(I pray to the one that listens), I even have a Tanzanian friend called “Godlisten” as if they were commanding the almighty to listen to their prayers. It is not that, the villager is anything against the almighty but just being a true villager. Now, that reminds me of a young man who has been going around masquerading as a pastor.
This guy is called Iyampaye (the one that gave me); he once came to my cousin’s place and offered to pray for her. On accepting the prayer session, he proceeded to perform a cleansing exercise in the house of the lady, he told her that, some light skinned neighbour had planted charms in her house and that, those charms are to prevent this lady from getting married. Quite funny, of course, there must be a light skinned woman in any neighbourhood and true, many ladies
will remain unmarried not that they have been bewitched! He suggested that, she should even change her name to a more “Godly” name rather than the traditional Kinyarwanda one. The huddle is the fact that, name changing in Rwanda is an uphill task.
I would rather remain Mfashumwana that be called something “mana”! To us who were born in the Juke Box era, it is good to keep our names
for historic purposes. By the way, whenever I visit my village of birth, though it has been christened as “Kyererezi” aka “Urumuri”, the sight of me makes everyone smile, they begin lamenting on my name. One old man was even suggesting that, I follow suit and change my name to Kyererezi as well. Never, over my dead body, I will leave and die as Mfashumwana. History has it that, at the time of my infancy, my mum left me at the neighbour’s place and went for the Juke Box dance.
She told the other lady that, “mfasha unsigarire n’umwana, nigire kubyina”(assist and look after my baby as I go dancing) and the locals could not pronounce it well, they shortened it to “Mfashumwana” and here I am! When I told this to the South Africans, they nodded in understanding and yet many of my own folks ridiculed me over the name; by the way, some guys at school used to call me “mfasha ihene”!