Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's In A Name? Ukwanda and the inexorable joy of being Si-andisile

I used to hate my name. Because my mind was colonised by the delusion that to be white was a norm to which I should have been aspiring. This delusion was fed by My Little Pony and Friends and Punkie Brewster and Clueless (yes, I am a 90s kid) as well a slew of insidious mental imperialists ranging from literature (whaddup Famous Five, Pollyanna and Little House on the Prairie) to pop culture (wha-hey Kylie Minogue, Vanessa Carlton and S Club 7) that made white culture, experience and life normative for me even though it was completely foreign. So I hated my name. I wished that it was shorter and/or anglophone, like Michelle, Sasha, Megan or Charmaine - actual names I wished were mine at some juncture. It wasn't just white names, though, any name that could easily lend itself to being anglicized or was short, snappy and easy for white people to pronounce would have sufficed.

But my mom loves Sandisile. Lord bless her "uncolonizable", indomitable spirit, the lady picked a name for me on October 17th, 33 years ago and stuck to her guns. She says it in full with a quiet pride, Sun-di-SEE-leh. Or in short, Sandi, with a high inflection on the last syllable: Sun-DEE, like it's a cool, complicated question she is asking to which she already knows the answer. And the answer is a confident declaration of everything being more thank ok, of all our needs being met and then some. The answer lies in the root of the name which is the Nguni word ukwanda.

Ukwanda: Increase, expansion, growth, accumulation. - Google Translate.

Ukwanda is a Xhosa word and the meaning can be translated as: “to grow” and “develop” within the community; to make a positive difference. - Stellenbosch University

My name means "we have created abundance," and if whoever came up with the Stellenbosch definition is worth his or her salt, then it also means we have made a positive difference. I love it. It's a good name to live up to. It's not without its pitfalls, though, as there is a thin line between abundance, which is beautiful and self-affirming and excess, which is destructive. A part of the journey of a Sandisile is learning how to strike that very fine balance and live a life in which she treads lightly so as not destroy (herself and whatever she comes in contact with - or whomever...) and a life in which she gives and receives with abundant joy and gratitude. This is not a bad life quest and I have been happily conducting this exciting experiment in-vivo with some very interesting results. I'm bringing people together, strangers and long lost friends alike. I'm creating access to opportunity for people who don't have a lot of bridging social capital. I'm manifesting beautiful learning and growth opportunities for myself as I simply live out the inexorable joy of being one whose mission is to make the circle beeger when it comes to good things for good people. Aweh ma-se-kind!

Because everything is ok and there is more than enough of everything you have ever needed.