I was standing in line when someone called me by my second name ( the name I use the most). “Tino” they called and I obviously turned back and responded. The person behind me then said, “is your name Tinotenda?” I replied yes it is, then they said “uh you don’t seem like a Tinotenda.” I then calmly asked them what a “Tinotenda” was supposed to seem like?- In my mind I had already killed them twelve times in twelve different ways- the reply they gave was what drew the last straw for me, “I don’t know hey, I just can’t describe it.” They did that chuckle that people do when they have been caught out and have nothing to say for themselves. I then just decided to rise above the fury that was burning in my chest and let it go.
But I can’t let it go. How can someone tell me that I am not a “Tinotenda”-the name my mother gave me and the name I have known to be mine for nineteen years of my life? Honestly, how many “Tinotenda’s ” have you met to now be able to just tell their names without them telling you. “Yes you must be a Tinotenda because you have short fingers.” “Your eyes are just the right color for a Tinotenda” Because I am an expert in name identification by intuition trust me.
This incident also brought a question to mind. What is in a name? In Zimbabwean culture we have very common names. Tinotenda is one of them and it means we thank you. Another common one is Nhamo and it means tribulations. Tamburai is my favourite and it means struggle. My friends always laugh at such names like Tamburai and Nhamo because they say these names will bring misfortune to their bearers-but is this true? Does the name make the person or does the person make the name? I have met very successful people called Nhamo but I have also met some very unsuccessful people called Nhamo.
I do not think that the name defines the person rather the person defines the name. Ten thousand people could be called Tinotenda but none of them will be like me. Hell they can not because it is not possible. We may share the same name but that name will mean different things to us. What I do, my ambitions, my failures, my relationships, my beliefs make me who I am. They make me Tinotenda. You can not say that there is a general trend in names because the measly five “Nhamo’s” you met were all struggling! If you want me to entertain the argument that names have trends then show me the data and the correlative evidence.
Before that you (yes you the person I met in the line and all your crew) let me make my name and carry it the way I see fit. What is in a name is you and all that makes you, you. Nothing else.