We named our daughter Lotanna to remember our father, our son Chiwetel to marvel at the gift we got from God, our other son Olisadubem for God to be his guide, and our baby Ranyenna to be grateful and as a reminder to give God what belongs to him always. The names we gave our children are powerful, a sacred and solemn gift from us, their parents, to them. Names are life-giving, pregnant with meaning, full of promise and possibilities, full of insight for one’s journey, one’s destiny through life. Like roots, names and their power, are buried deep below the ground, a hidden source of nutrients and a foundation necessary to rise, to the demands of life. And the road ahead will be rough, full of turbulence, hurricanes and even dark storms. Even as your spread far and wide, as you roam the earth in search of ways to stand upright, your name will always be your guide when strong winds blow, always be your guide with every hurricane, every storm, so you don’t fall. But when you live out your name, when you live out it’s meaning, it’s significance, it’s power, then your destiny is in the hands of your Chi (your God). Your name becomes your shepherd, guiding you along the right path.
As a mother of children with names that are grounded in our Igbo culture, I am always alert when my kids ask questions about their names. Names are significant in my culture, almost like the sighting of the deer post I previously wrote about. It help you see yourself, see the hopes and dreams parents wish for their children as they embark on their own unique journey through life. My mother has a saying that the only thing she could truly account for was the baby in her stomach. Once the baby is outside, he belongs to the world. Their names are their guides, their direction for the journey through life on their own terms. Needless to say, names matter a lot to me. A glimpse of who you are, with far reaching consequences for your destiny.
Now for an understanding of where you are from, Yamile Saied Mendez and Jamie Kim have written and illustrated a beauty book for children worthy of praises. It’s about a little girl wondering where she is from. The illustrations are as beautiful as the the words. Effortlessly written to help tell a story of the girls origins and guide through life. Not only is she from gaucho, brave and strong, but she is also from the palm trees that stretch and caress. From hurricanes that are dark and strong. Even from the sunshine that lights our path in this world and the rain that washes our mistakes. I truly love this book. It’s a reminder to keep knowing where you are from. Like one’s name, it’s the insight children need these days. You matter, you are loved and you come from a generation of people who are as powerful as they are fearless, as divine as they are sublime, who want nothing but the best for their children. Keep knowing where you are from. Like your name, it truly matters.