"I used to wonder why my parents gave me my name", he says to me after he introduces himself. "But you know, I do not think it is a bad name anymore. There is a meaning behind it that is important, and that is a good thing." He explains to me how in his culture, when a baby is born, it is given a name according to what is going on with the parents at that very space in time. If your father has just died, you might name your son after him and his name might be Earnest. Say your uncle just gave you some tools to build a house and you are grateful for it, you might name your daughter Thankful. But there are other names which are not so easy to figure out, like my friend here having a chat with me. It is a very sweet story, how he figures out the origin of his name. "You see," he says "there was a lot going on for my parents when I was born, a lot of things were wrong, and they were figuring out how to cope..." He is smiling softly as he stands in my kitchen relaying his story to me, and I sense that he has overcome his own trials in his young life. "So, when they had me, it was such a gift you know? And they were feeling so blessed." His smile widens and he continues, "So they just said 'never mind' to all of the bad! Look, we are blessed with a son! So you see, it is a positive name!" And I do see, he too has said "never mind" to the negative out there, and has embraced the power of his name.
(Oh, and then he tells me a funny story of how to get back at your neighbor by naming your dog something that will upset them... And I see that a name is not just a name in Shangaan!)