Ever heard of Kirsty Coventry? No! I hadn’t either until I received an email outlining her influences and long-term effect on Zimbabwe and its people. For your information, Kirsty Coventry is a 23-year-old Zimbabwean swimmer – who pulled off a remarkable gold-3 silver collection in the Beijing Olympics. The only medals for Zimbabwe, and a feat according to the e-mail, that has her 4 medals ahead of South Africa on the medal table (although I’m sure SA won one Silver at least!)
Anyway, the e-mail (received shortly after the Olympic Games finished,) continues with: “When you consider that the majority of Zimbabweans who can swim (and there are few enough to begin with), have already made it across the Limpopo, (River) and are now running informal businesses in downtown Joh’Burg, Coventry's achievement becomes all the more impressive. And Zimbabweans are reacting with appropriate delight. Coventry was given a presidential welcome when she returned home yesterday (red carpet treatment, that is, not tossed into jail), but it's the impact on new-born Zimbabweans that is most delightful.
TV personality Marc Pozzo is the source of an email listing names of children born in Zimbabwean hospitals in the last week or so. Zimbabweans are a creative lot when it comes to naming their children -I remember a baby delivered in a police station in Harare being named
'Charge Office', and one of my closest mates is a Zimbabwean banker named Kingdom - and the swimming heroics of Kirsty Coventry have proved marvelously inspirational.
And so the country is now home to Kirsty Coventry Mapurisa; to Backstroke Banda and Individual Medley Mbofana (honestly, I'm not making these up); to Goldmedal Zulu and Gold 3 Silver Ndlovu. In a similar vein, Butterfly Masocha and Freestyle Zuze have joined Zimbabwe 's
population; and if you're fortunate in years to come to bump into Fourmedal Chinotimba, you'll know exactly where the name comes from. The Games inspire in many ways; Kirsty Coventry has ensured a peerless legacy she surely could never have imagined.”
When I received this e-mail, apart from the good laugh it brought, thought that it seems to be very much an African thing, as we learnt from our time is South Africa, where children were also named after events and things. I met one lady, whose African name now eludes me, but apparently when she was born her father said, “What is that big ugly thing” in Xhosa, and that became her official name. I have known others called ‘Headman’ and ‘Princess’, even ‘Sithathu” (now we are three) obviously their 3rd born son. Another boy, their last one, was called Sikosonke (Now we are all here) and there was even a girl called ‘Liphela’, as she was expected to be “The last one”. Unfortunately for them, they had another! There are lots more I could share, but my favourite was “NoMali”, because after she was born, her father had “no money”.
However, although Africans from my experience seem to do it so well, others do it too, even if to a lesser to Degree. Our very own Melbourne Paper’s idle talk column, lately has been full of people who were born in Melbourne 100years ago and named after people on the Great Fleet from America that arrived here 100 years ago under Captain Sperry. And even now, the women candidate for VP of the USA (Sarah Palin) named her fist son "Track", after High school Athletic Track meetings, her first girl (Willow) after a town in Alaska, and the second (Piper) after the aeroplane she used to fly around Alaska, and the last was named Trig which in fact is Norse for Strength. So it is not unique to any one race, although the Africans do it so well don't they?
Even I was named after Australia’s own Walter Lindrum, (later Sir) who is still regarded as the World’s greatest Billiards player. So what about you though? Who or what were you or some of your Family named after? Over to you for now.