Names are a fascinating part of culture everywhere. Here, kids are traditionally named according to the circumstances of their birth, usually their mother’s circumstances. As you can imagine given that pregnancy and birth is quite tough at the best of times, there are a lot of ‘Aols” (I’m tired) :D. Some of the names are very specific though. The first twin out is called Opio, the second twin is called Acen (literally ‘later’). If you’re born after twins you’re ‘Akello’. If you come out the ‘wrong’ way (not headfirst), you’re called Angei. If you’re born with 6 fingers you’re ‘Ojara’ (I have a friend Ojara, his mother cut the extra one off soon after he was born). Unfortunately though, the long history of war has left a legacy of names with negative connotations. Many of these names are as common as John or James.
Acan – I’m poor
Anyek – I’m jealous
Atimongo – What can I do?
Ayella – I’m disturbed
Arach – I’m bad/evil (and not in the Michael Jackson sense)
Necolit – Painful killing
Otoo – Death
Komakech – I’m starving
And for me the most chilling,
Ngomkwora – The grave awaits me
Thankfully now there is peace, and some parents have actively chosen to be more positive in naming. There’s now more and more nice names like Amara (Love), Angeo Rwot (I know god), Kica (Mercy). I hope this trend continues!