A Travellerspoint blog

When Misery came to the house...

What's in a name?...

sunny 27 °C

I can’t exactly say my heart leapt when I saw her… six foot tall and thin, deep voice, big hands, and either the worst luck I’ve known, or a wild imagination for spinning stories- it was Candiru, a lady who had visited us several times before asking for money for various dire scenarios. Candiru literally means ‘misery’ in the local language and unfortunately she lives up to it, with her terrible tales of bus accidents, her children starving, her clothes being stolen and so on.

The Lugbara naming culture is similar to the names in the Bible in that names have power and can describe the situation of the child’s birth. It’s not just in peoples’ names, but also generally in the words spoken (which is why David’s sarcasm often goes down like a lead balloon…)

We also met ‘Breath of death’ (Draza) last week- a teenage boy lying unconscious outside out house, unfortunately also living up to his name-skinny as a skeleton, neglected at home, malnourished.
These confusing situations are so hard to get to the bottom of, or fully understand, or even know the ‘right’ way to respond.

Our Landlord, an older man, was explaining that it is only in recent years that names have become more positive and hopeful, names such as ‘Asianzu’ (peace/ grace) ‘Ayikoru’- (joy) and ‘fetaa’ – (gift) are more common, alongside the 'miserables' and ‘breath of death’s’ around us.

One of the big responsibilities of expecting a baby is choosing their name/s. After causing confusion and amusement with Emma and Craig being boys names here, and people thinking Amelie is Emily, we had been hoping to find a Lugbara name we could use as a middle name, but haven’t had much success- either the names are so depressing, (Feku: ‘give not’- the mother never gave the father enough food, Drajoa- ‘in the death hut’- meaning many children died in the house or 'Inia'- meaning the father only visited the mother at night…) and the more positive ones don’t exactly roll off the tongue. Our language teacher, another Candiru, who thankfully doesn’t live up to her name, has been very patient with me asking for the Lugbara words for ‘hope’ ‘blessing’ ‘wanted’ etc… with disappointingly clunky sounding results.

We realised one of our shortlisted fave girl’s names means ‘food’ tomato’ and ‘millet’ in the local language so we’re back to the drawing board. And then I throw my patriotic husband’s desire for Scottish name into the mix too, and we’re really stuck…

I am writing this in the limbo land of Entebbe, (where Uganda's international airport is situated, waiting for our BA flight on Monday), in between the world of Candiru’s begging at the gate and millet flour and charcoal stoves, and an island of paved roads and snazzy buggies and punctual time keeping…

saying goodbye to all the animals

saying goodbye to all the animals

Our life often feels a bit like that ‘in-between’ place culturally, with our lives in two completely different countries and continents. It is strange enough for David and I as adults, but we worry about how confusing it is for Amelie with her white-blond hair but her love of riding boda-bodas and her Ugandan accent.
Amelie and her beloved dolly

Amelie and her beloved dolly

Posted by africraigs 12:23 Archived in Uganda

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Can't wait to see yous!!!

by Corne

Hey Girl!!!!
I don't write often but I love reading your blog, seeing how big Amelie is and hearing what is going on in Uganda! It is fun to see how Amelie grows up while watching Micah as well since they are so close. The other day I was packing up some old baby clothes and I came across the little jumper that you gave us with the fish on it. Our younger son, Asher, wore it as well with good memories. Glad you are doing well and can't wait to see your newest little one!

by Jessica Olwa

Great blog - really interesting, brings back memories of reality in Africa. Dying to hear Emily's (couldn't resist!) Ugandan accent. Amelie's been confused already with you two as her parents, so what more is there to worry about! It's hilarious that sarcasm doesn't really work in Africa - but at least you both can share the funny side of things together. See you soon!

by Mark Scott

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