Michael Wines reports in today's New York Times from Zimbabwe, where baby names such as Godknows, Enough, and Hatred are replacing their equivalents in local languages:
Across southern Africa, in fact, one can find any number of Lovemores, Tellmores, Trymores and Learnmores, along with lots of people named Justice, Honour, Trust, Gift, Energy, Knowledge and even a Zambian athlete named Jupiter.
Some Westerners chuckle. Perhaps they are oblivious — Oblivious is another Zimbabwean name, actually — to the fact that they once idolized a cowboy star named Hopalong or that many baby girls are given the name of a jewelry store to carry through life.
Indeed, Godknows, Enough and company are a continuation of an African tradition arguably more logical than the one that churns out Justins and Tiffanys in America. In southern Africa, a child’s name is chosen to convey a specific meaning, and not, as is common in the West, the latest fashion.
Increasingly, however, those traditional names are bestowed not in Ndebele, Sotho or some other local language, but in English, the world’s lingua franca. English names arrived with colonial rule, were further imposed by missionaries and, for some, became fashionable with the spread of Western culture.
Have-a-Look Dube is a well-known Zimbabwean soccer player, Wines writes. Godknows Nare received his name when he was 1 year old and very ill; his parents accepted that only God would decide his fate. And a man named Enough explained his name thus: "My mother had 13 children. And I was the last one."