Jody and Sarah Fox - this phase of our Journey as IMB missionaries in Niger, West Africa

Saturday, August 27, 2011

African Names and Happy Birthday!

Well, I've never understood this before, but apparently it's just the normal thing. I'm talking about receiving an African name. Why in the world can't we just be called by our American names - Jody, Sarah, Camryn, Jordan and Lauren? Up to 2 days ago we have introduced our children by their real names and we have been getting some confused looks and people repeat their names, but they don't sound quite right. But 2 days ago I was visiting with some African women and I told them the names of my girls. She repeated them slowly and then said 'ga sandi', which means they are difficult. That's when it hit me. What's familiar and easy to me is foreign and difficult to them and vice versa. The past month as I've been meeting people I'm always thinking how difficult their names are and that I'm never going to be able to learn them. Names such as Mounkaila, Hawa, Daouda, Khadijah, Rashida, Farita, Hamsatou, Sumana, etc. And those are just the names I could understand well enough to attempt to spell them out. Other names are like 4 syllables and completely unintelligible to my English ears. Occasionally I would meet a Layla or an Anna and I'd think, ok, I can remember this one.

So even though the names I'm used to seem so much simpler - Luke, John, Susan, Amy - they're not easy for Nigeriens. If we want people to be able to understand our names and remember them, it's best to have names they are used to. So this same lady who said my kid's names were difficult took it upon herself to give my children African names. I hadn't planned on giving them new names, but it just makes sense. So, I now introduce you to....

Hilema
(aka Camryn)

Cherifa
(aka Jordan) This sounds like a little diva name, but what can I say, it fits Jordan!

Nana

(aka Lauren) The a's sound like the o in otter.

In case you were wondering, Jody and I also have African names. Someone gave Jody the name "Gado" which means 'one who comes after twins'. Of course this doesn't make sense because Jody is the firstborn, but I think they chose it because it sounds similar to 'Jody'. Then someone who Jody was talking to gave me the name "Khadi" which I was ok with until I found out that it was one of Muhammad's wives...so I decided to switch to 'Saharatu' which is how Sarah translates into Zarma. It's not a super popular name here, but they understand it and I did meet a little girl with the name. I prefer to be associated with Abraham's wife than Muhammad's! J

Also, today is Lauren’s 2nd birthday! We went to the zoo to celebrate and then had some birthday cake and opened presents at night. She’s been practicing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song since Jordan’s birthday last month, so she was prepared! She loved having a special day just for her and loved getting some new toys to play with.

At the Zoo


In front of the lions...don't stick your hands in girls!

Cute little baby hippo!

Lauren lookin proud of her cake!

Lauren playing her new drum!

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to get used to the names...lol! Wow, Lauren is getting really old! Time goes by so quickly!

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