What’s in a Name?

28 Sep

Names are a really important part of a person, especially in Botswana. When you want to ask someone what their name is, you ask them “O mang?” which directly translates to “Who are you?” Your name defines you.

So why do I bring this up? It’s been something that has really been bothering me, so I am going to rant about it. As you all know, I was not thrilled when I was put in a homestay for accommodation, and I was immediately uncomfortable when I met the man I would be living with. He was introduced to me, and I said “Dumela, I’m Ky-” when he cut me off, looked at my supervisor and said something in Setswana. My supervisor turned to me and said “Ah, he has given you a Setswana name, Gosego.” (Pronounced Ho-say-ho, meaning “Lucky”).

Later, I met his children. I said “Dumela, I’m Kyla!” and their dad told them “This is Gosego, she will be staying with us.” I let it go. Usually the kids call me Auntie (everyone is Auntie here) but last night, they called me Gosego. So I said “My name is Kyla.” They looked very confused. They asked me why I was changing my name. I explained to them that my parents had given me the name Kyla and just their dad called me Gosego. They were still confused.

Now don’t get me wrong – I would absolutely love to have a Setswana name. But I was really offended by how this man did it. He “named” me without getting to know me at all, and didn’t even bother to learn what my given name is. Which is a name I’d rather fond of and attached to. In my head I was thinking “How would you like it if you came to Canada and before you barely even opened your mouth I said ‘You know what, your name doesn’t matter to me, I’m just going to call you John’?” He probably wouldn’t feel very welcomed.

However, he remains the only person who calls me Gosego, and all of my other friends and coworkers call me Kyla (or Dana, which we all giggle about!). I hope that I can get another Setswana name – one that reflects who I am and given to me by someone who knows me.


PS – Make the effort to call everyone by the name they introduce themselves with! If you have trouble pronouncing it, ask them again! It’s better to look like an idiot for the 30 seconds it takes to learn it than to act like their name doesn’t matter.  


One Response to “What’s in a Name?”

  1. riceme@rogers.com September 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Kyla- Oh dear, that’s terrible!  How could he do that?  I hope you’re OK there.  Is his wife nice?  We’re going to be at Ahmic on the weekend, so we’ll look forward to hearing more from Sharyn. Take good care Love Aunt Marnie


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