Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post is part of an ongoing series that published pages from my now retired cultural websites Cocojams and AlafiaNames. Cocojams was consistently published online from Jan 2001-October 2011. AlafiaNames was published online from 2002-2004.
This post republishes the AlafiaNames page entitled "Quotations" as well as one page from the recurring AlafiaNames series "Ask Azizi".
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and etymological purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to the wayback machine for archiving these and a few other Cocojams and AlafiaNames pages.
April 7, 2004
“The way of your ancestors are good.
Their customs are solid
and not hollow.
They are not thin, and not easily breakable.
They cannot be blown away
by the winds
because their roots reach deep into the soil.”
-Okot p’Bitek, The Song of Lawino: An African Lament
(Cleveland, Ohio, The World Publishing Co, 1969, 29)
“Ye dark-skinned peoples, are you listening?
Those who gave birth to us, before they start to speak,
They think deeply, they look for appropriate proverbs,
they ponder profound matters,
They say: One must first consider one’s tradition and history, before deciding on a name for the child.
They say: One’s name is one’s bridle,
Ye dark-skinned peoples, listen to me.
Our fathers did not play about with names.
To hear their name is to know their origin.
Every name is a veritable testament!”
- Fela Sowande, “Children of the Gods Among Yorubas of Nigeria
”Readings in Black Rhetoric (Pittsburgh, PA, Univ. of Pittsburgh, 1972, 56)
“Today, African Americans parents continue to assert independence of European traditions in the naming of their children. Nicknames still describe physical appearance, temperament, and family relationships, just as they did in early Georgia and in West Africa. BigBoy and Son, Mama-Sweet and Daughter are timeless references. And Shandra and Yakine reflect not only innovation but also appreciation for sound. Perhaps it is no coincidence that in West Africa, where great importance is attached to the meaning of names, some are, nevertheless, chosen because of their sound.”
- Carole Merrit, Homecoming; African-American Family History In Georgia
Atlanta, GA, American Family History Association, 1982, 22)
“Ghetto life creates its own terms for survival, its own names, its own heroes. Nicknames like “Mook” and ”Pop” and “Smokey” populate every inner city in America”
-Kevin Powell, “Hot Dogg”, Vibe (Vol 1#1, 52)
“Don’t you be callin me by my first name. Ah’m old enough to be your grand paw!
-Zora Neale Hurston, Mules to Men, (New York, Harper & Row, 1955; 130)
“What’s your name? "
Ask me again, and I’ll tell you the same.”
- traditional African American children’s rhyme
"You fool with Aunt Hagar’s chillum, and they’ll sho discriminate you and put yo’ name in de street."
- Zora Neale Hurston, Mules to Men, (New York, Harper & Row, 1955; 162)
“It was commonplace in black neighborhoods to have a nickname. By the time a child was sucking his bottle or thumb, people were already staring at him like a specimen asking , “What you gon’ call him?” Then they would give a child a name that should no consideration for his own. Baby boys got names like Lucky, BooBoom Sugar Pie, PeeWee, and Homeless. “Don’ he just look like a big fat pumpkin?” And that’s what he’d be called thereafter. Little girl’s names were as least softer to the ear. 'Peaches, Babysister, Candy, Bo-peep, and Cookie. There was a set of twins called Heckle and Jeckle.'”
-Terry McMillan, Mama (Washington Square Press, 46)
“We African Americans have the best nicknames: Spike, Cooler, Dr. J… No one makes up names more musical or beautiful or bold than we do, Reshawn, Colandria, Arlicetta.. In hiphop culture you put on your name like part of your wardrobe.
-David D. Haynes “Sapphire & LaQuan: Names As Music”
Colors (Jan-Feb. 1994)
“I love it when they call me
Big Poppa, the Show Stoppa, the Rhyme Droppa. What you gonna do when Big Poppa comes for you?
Have you run across any quotes on Black names and Black naming practices? Share the wealth. Send them to AlafiaNames ™!!
From https://web.archive.org/web/20040407031502/http://www.alafianames.com/ask_azizi_Erykah_Badu.htm April 7, 2004
If you don’t know what your name means, ask Azizi.
© 2003 Azizi Powell, All Rights Reserved
Erykah Badu is a contemporary R&B singer who came on the scene with a real Afrocentric look-the big head wrap, the tight arm bracelet, and the long dresses. Her name is different too, especially that “Badu” last name.
I figured I would have some fun, and go etymological hunting to discover the meanings of her names.
First off, I figured I’d start with the easy name. If Erykah was from the United States, it would be reasonable to assume that her first name was a hip version of “Erica”, made by substituting a “y” for the “i”, using a “k” in place of a “c”, and adding a “h” for good measure. A little bit of Internet searching yielded the fact that Erykah Badu is from Dallas, Texas, and her birth name is Erica Wright. So here’s the etymology for her birth names.
“Erica”: Origin: Old Norse, the feminine form of “Eric”, Meaning: “Ruler of All; or “All-powerful”; “Wright”: English occupation name, Meaning "Carpenter (Wheelwright)"
Now, what about that "Badu" last name that Erykah adopted? “Badu” sounded African to me, so I did some research and here's what I found:
"Badu” is an Akan language (Ghana & The Ivory Coast, West Africa) birth order name that means “10th born male ("Badu" or "Badua"). The name for “10th born female" is “Baduawa". Since I couldn’t find any other African words that looked like “Badu”, I guessed that Erykah’s last name meant “the 10th born”. But I guessed wrong.
Two weeks after I had patted myself on the back for finding out what Erykah Badu’s names meant, I happened to spy a grocery store magazine with a cover picture of Erykah Badu and her son. Of course, I bought the magazine, and at the first opportunity scanned through it like I was looking for hidden treasure. The first page of her article had information on why Erykah & OutKast lyricist Andre 3000’s son was named “Seven” (because 7 is a spiritual number). But it wasn’t until the next to the last paragraph that I stroke the gold that I had been searching for. Here’s a direct quote:
" What’s next for Badu? Given that she’s always re-inventing herself, it could be just about anything. The lady who once wrote comedy for Steve Harvey, and later changed her name from Erica Wright to her current moniker because she was inspired by the “badu” sound vocalized by scatting jazz artist, is up for any challenge." Heart & Soul, October 2003, page 70
Well people, that’s it. The name “Erykah Badu” means “All-Powerful Ruler Who Loves To Scat Jazz.” My bad for thinking otherwise.
Amen, Hallelujah, and Ashe, Ashe!
Do you have a name that you'd like to see featured on "Ask Azizi"?
Go to Contact Us and I'll do my best to find its meaning!"
That concludes those reposted pages from AlafiaNames.
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