Experience, In Zambia, Observation


SIMILAR TO THE CHINESE, HEBREW, AND JAPANESE TRADITIONS, THE BEMBA PEOPLE of Zambia also name their children after their births’ circumstances, sentiments and wishes of the name-giver, the children’s dominate personality, and the introduction of Biblical names in English.

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In the local Zambia communities, we have encountered Charity, Gift, Blessing, Happy, Thankful, Trouble, Memory, Progress, Legend, several Moseses, and many other fascinating names in Bemba/other Zambian language. I have not met anyone with the name Shamafuta (Animal fat lover), perhaps it’s a good thing. 😀

There was a girl in Zimba whose Bembian name means “Termination.” Perplexed, we asked a Care Worker the significance of her naming. He told us “Termination” was born after the pre-mature death of her older sibling, she was named thus to mark the end of her mother’s sorrow.

Read a book “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything” by Steven D. Levitt—a chapter on how different naming preferences have or have not influenced the child’s destiny—I want to keep track of the Zimbia children’s development progress in comparison to Professor Levitt’s research on the American naming practices.

While the team was serving there, we were also given Bembian names—
Ada – “Mama” A respectful title for a mature woman and “Ichishinka” Truthful/Honest
Myra – “Ichimwemwe” Joyful
Romina – “Insansa” Passionate
Suzette – “Kafwa” Helper
Abe – “Abraham” Well, Abraham, as is. Or AKA “The Selfie King” 😉
Yours Truly – “Tontonkanya” Thoughtful/Mindful (Come to think of it I’d like to be called “Katongo” Adventurous/Wanderer also)


She is CHARITY, One of The Children in Zimbia Village.

She is Charity, one of the children in Zimba Village.

The Team on a chartered minibus traveling to and from Zimbia Village community.

The Team on a chartered minibus traveling to and from the Zimba Village community | From Left: Kafwa, Clement—Local H@W Staff, Ichimwemwe, Mama/Ichishinka, Blan—Chartered Minibus Co-pilot (Sorry man for my bad hand), Abe—THE Abraham, Tontonkanya, Insansa, Ashley—H@W Long-term Volunteer, and Jerry The Driver | Photo courtesy of Abe Lee

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The gentleman in the header image is named BLESSING, he is one of H@W’s local leaders. I love his t-shirt, don’t ask me why. Guess who was standing on the edge of Blessing’s right shoulder? 😉

Click on each content images to view larger version.

The content of this blog post represents the sole views and opinions of me and other authors, not of Hands at Work.


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