Say My Name, Say My Name

Jennifer Ruwart
Posted February 24, 2009 from United States

Thank you for all the excellent and insightful questions you've been asking about Voices of Our Future! One of the most frequently asked questions is the following:

"Now that I've joined this group, what do I do? Should I start submitting stories or will I be told what to write about?"

The application process officially kicks off on March 15th. During the month-long process, applicants will be given weekly assignments to complete.

In the meantime, dive into PulseWire, meet some of our 1500 members from over 120 countries, and share your visions and solutions for women's empowerment.

To get you started, here is a juicy question from World Pulse's own Mistress of Amalgamation, Ila Asplund.

What is your name? What does that name mean? What names were you given? What names have you taken on or changed? (nicknames, titles, married names, whatever!) What do they mean to you? And how have they shaped your life?

Stay tuned for more answers to frequently asked questions.

In anticipation, The World Pulse Team

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  • Jennifer Ruwart
    Feb 24, 2009
    Feb 24, 2009

    My name is Jennifer. Jennifer means "fair one" My full name is Jennifer Ann Ruwart. Ann is of hebrew origin and means "favored grace" ooh.. so that means my name could mean fair one of favored grace. Awwww right! I have not taken anyone else's or changed my name. My nicknames have included: Ruwart, JR, gobiprincess, jenn-i-fer (prounced jen-ee-four) and J-Ru I love em all. Ruwart makes me feel spicy, strong and fun. It rips off the tongue. JR makes me feel masculine, in a good way. Jenn-i-fer makes me feel silly. J-ru makes me cool and unique. Being called by my last name for almost 40 years by the men in my life has made me feel like one of the guys. Although I am ALL gal, emotions and all, there is nothing I won't talk about. I love locker room talk and don't get enough of it. I don't think most people know just how wild and silly I am.

  • Danielle Prince
    Feb 24, 2009
    Feb 24, 2009

    What fun to answer these questions! Thanks for the suggestion.

    My full name is Danielle Elise Prince. I often get compliments on it, to which I reply that I'll forward them on to my parents. They're the ones who chose my name after all.

    I'm named after my Swiss grandfather, whose middle name was the French "Daniel" (pronounced "Danielle"). I also inherited the rather cool last name of Prince, just like The Artist Formerly Known As.

    My name holds meaning only in the traditional, patriarchal way of keeping the man's name in the family. I know that Daniel means "God is my Judge" in Hebrew, though I chose to think God is more my Bud than my Judge. I do a pretty good job of judging myself, I think.

    I've been given several pet names over the years, from both parents and lovers. My Dad christened me "Bunting" as a little girl, and to my great satisfaction as an adult, continues to address me as such. During my turbulent teens, I refused to answer him when he called me that, being overly embarrassed with anything that had to do with my appendage called "parent". But as we all know, much wisdom comes with age, and at 32, I feel blessed he's in my life. For a split second, I internally feel I am that little girl I when he calls me Bunting now; a feeling I cherish as much as I cherish him.

    I married a year ago and did not change my name. As personal form of feminist expression, I will go to my grave with my birth name. It's a tiptoe topic - acquiring the husband's name is still so readily done. I stand on the side of self-righteous feminism, believing that taking on a man's name is yet another form of suppression. (Though the irony here is that my birth-given name is 2/3rds patriarchal.) Why should we women have to do all the work of changing our name and all the important documents our name goes on? What a pain in the ass, not to mention giving up some teeny tiny piece of our identity that is attached to who that person is until marriage.

    As a married woman, I've also chosen to use the title "Ms." when it's called for. That way, I am who I am with or without a husband, just as a man being "Mr." is himself with or without a wife. Besides, Mrs. Prince is my mom.

    At the age of 25, on my very birthday, in fact, I chose to become "Dan". That day marked the end of a long chapter of my life, and as a unique birthday present to myself, I broke up with someone I should have left much earlier. That day also initiated the strangest, and saddest week of my life. I lost my beloved grandmother just 4 days later. I prefer being called Dan by most people. It feels more intimate, more connected, more real and right there. It cuts through layers of social protocol and formalities that somehow Danielle seems to track in its wake. I know when my husband calls me "Dan", things are smooth between us. When he says "Danielle", I instinctively know something's up.

    Becoming "Dan" was my first official way of identifying myself as a strong and independent woman. I didn't know that at the time, but have come to recognize it in time. I realize it's a bit odd for a woman to be called Dan, but somehow I can't reconcile it being much odder than women with the names "Chris and Alex", though those seem to trip people up less.

    What a fun series of questions to answer! I look forward to more, and reading others' responses.

    Love and Solidarity, Dan

  • efe
    Feb 25, 2009
    Feb 25, 2009

    'Dan's' response is very interesting and humorous but in Africa, there is no humour in the matter of giving names. In fact some individuals change their names if they feel it gives them bad-luck or if it is not in line with their religious beliefs. My name is Efe (given by my parents) Alexandra (Baptismal name chosen by me). Efe means wealth (still waiting for it though). However, the name that appeals to me more is Alexandra. I actually chose it because it sounds exotic and french but i really like it now after finding out the meaning. It means defender and that defines me. In Primary School, i was always upset with people who threw stones at women who lived at an Old People's Home close to my school.Here, in Africa people that live in such homes are viewed as witches who have been driven away by their family.As young as i was, i did not like the idea of anyone hurting anyone, witch or not.

    In Secondary School i defended a foreigner who was always taunted by my mates for being different.Same for a girl who was not popular for being "Born Again". As a Youth Corps Member, i defended Northerners( i am a Southerner) who were being insulted by fellow Southerners (in their absence) for being responsible for the religious clashes. A colleague got so mad at me and insisted that i was dating a Northerner that's why i was speaking up for them (which was not the case though i eventually met and dated a Northerner after that incident)

    Names have a way of defining us whether we like to admit it or not.There is a certain spirituality in name giving or name choosing.So be careful folks, look before you leap.

  • mamaAfrica
    Feb 25, 2009
    Feb 25, 2009

    "What is a name, that which we call a rose by any other name will smell sweet" Juliet said in Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet.

    Names give us identity and names can also define our destiny. Growing up in a patriachal society that used names to define roles and determined the place for women and girls, i wish to look at names from a different angle. The perspective that destine men to rule and doom women to servitude. I was called "stupid like your Mother" but I grew up to know that mamma is the a woman of wisdom, she brought good and not evil all the days of her life, she extended her hand of help to the poor and the needy, she was clothed with strength and a perfect smile even in adversity. she loved her family and made sacrifices in joy. even though she may not have climbed so high the ladder of success, her children were educated, though she had one 'sunday best' a dress she only wore when going to church, she prayed in faith. did they call me stupid? now I know i am not what they said I am, STUPID is not my name and my mamma is not stupid she is a woman of valor, That special rose that smells so sweet and enlightens my heart. So you want to know my name? My name is ABLE WOMAN I can do all things with wisdom, strength and power

  • Bonnie Stone
    Feb 25, 2009
    Feb 25, 2009

    What is your name? Bonnie Jean Stone

    What does that name mean? Beautiful, god-given, rock (hehe...or my interpretation of it anyway) Actually, Jean is Hebrew for "God is gracious" and he certainly is.

    What names were you given? Bonnie Jean Stone, BJ, Beej, peanut head (by my dad)

    What names have you taken on or changed? My many screen names over the years: Sekhmet (the Egyptian lion-headed goddess of war) Bastet (Egyptian cat-headed goddess of the home and the fields) Dubatuluk (my TORC name, a misspelling of the Orcish word "durbatuluk" from the inscription inside the One ring) Belladonna (Italian for "beautiful lady") My pen name D. S. Knight/Dee Shelby Knight (which sprung from another screen name deadly shade knight and speculative fiction geekiness)

    I write under my pen name without worrying about duality because both my pen name and my given name are going to the same person.

    What do they mean to you? All of them are me from one point of my life to another. I will always be Bonnie Jean Stone, Sekhmet, Bastet, Dubatuluk, D. S. Knight, Belladonna and any other name I take on during my life. As said by Ardeth Bay in The Mummy Returns: "A man who does not embrace his past has no future." Of course, for this purpose, I'm going to say "a WOMAN who does not embrace HER past has no future."

    And how have they shaped your life? See above answer.

  • Joanne Wanjala
    Feb 26, 2009
    Feb 26, 2009

    Waw! It is interesting how guys describe their names. The society has shaped our minds such that certain perceptions and judgements are arrived at basing on people's names. In my country Kenya for instance, your surname is enough to describe your tribe, which part of the country you come from, your religion, political affiliations and it is here that the ethnic bias comes in. One will immediately judge you basing on tribal steoreotypes instigated by the society. We have had cases where by people lose jobs, not on potential, but on your second name.

    For instance, once i introduce myself anywhere as Joanne, the next question is always 'your surname please'. And immediately i say 'Wanjala', that already says a lot about me, usually negative insinuations about my tribe.

    By the way, i have grown up using 'Wanjala', my father's surname rather than 'Nekesa', my African name because in my community, it is a must for a woman's complete names to have a man's name, for identity they say. And it is total madness for my brother, for example, to take on my mother's name, like say Dennis Susan. So as a single woman, your father's surname is a must and once you get married, you forget about all your names because you will simply be referred to as Mrs. so and so.

    To me, that has always implied lack of identity for an African woman. Because you realize that for almost all your life, you rarely use your full Joanne Nekesa.

    But why, i ask?

  • Nzasu
    Feb 27, 2009
    Feb 27, 2009

    What is your name? Carolyn Itumbi Ndoto

    What does that name mean? Carolyn is English so perhaps an English man can explain that to you better! Right there is a problem the first name that is used to identify me is English but I am African a black African!!!!!! What I do know is I was supposed to be born on Christmas day. The womb must have been a warm place as I was born 3 days later on the 28th of December. As the Christmas Carols still play on days after Christmas my mother named me Carolyn.

    Itumbi is my tribal name, it’s also my great grandmothers name .It means an egg, just like an egg as delicate as an egg let me explain…..When you go out to the store and buy a tray of eggs you will note that the position of the eggs in the store is thought out and strategic eggs aren’t placed just anywhere they could break! Secondly when you get to the eggs section and pick them up, you don’t do it as blindly as you would say a bar of chocolate or even a slice of bread. Your body literally faces the direction of the eggs and with both of your hands you carefully pick the tray of eggs and put them in your basket not just anywhere perhaps on a corner of your basket for safe keeping. Then you get to the counter after carefully pushing your trolley. You then carefully pick up these eggs and the shop attendant carefully wraps them up thought once again is put into how they should be wrapped and carried. Finally you get to the car place your eggs where you can see them and even if you cant see them, you constantly check on them when you go over a bump, hit the break hard etc etc. And that is exactly how I should be treated just like the eggs. Alot of people don’t get me and this is the simple reason why you don’t get me! Once you understand and practice the egg treatment on me we will be the best of friends and lovers!

    Ndoto is used both in Swahili my country’s national language and Akamba my tribal language. And in both cases It means the same thing dream

    What names were you given? Carolyn Itumbi Ndoto.My country and the world identifies me with these names. My passport, National Identification, certificates and etc all reflect this

    What names have you taken on or changed? Nzasu. I have adopted this name and officially I am planning to have my documents changed to reflect this. I will drop Carolyn Itumbi Ndoto and adopt Nzasu Ndoto and or whatever my husbands name will be.

    What do they mean to you?

    Nzasu means a sense of pride.I have a sense of pride because of who I am a woman, where I come from Mama Africa, what I do communicate with the world , and what I have accomplished the rediscovery of my true self an African!

    And how have they shaped your life? It has allowed me to see me for me, to see me for who I am not, and to see me for who I am perceived to be. Once you get your identity right , you are able to express yourself in ways mere mortals may not understand .With a passion and purpose where you feel every word your body, soul, and whole self feels it too!

  • Jennifer Ruwart
    Mar 05, 2009
    Mar 05, 2009

    I never did this, but I know some of my colleagues were given eggs in high school as an assignment, which was to treat the eggs like they were their newborn babies for a week. Obviously, if they cracked their eggs, they were bad parents! LOL! (Laughing out loud)

    I love your analogy of the egg. I promise to treat you with gentleness, intention, and care.

    Love, Jennifer

  • Nzasu
    Mar 02, 2009
    Mar 02, 2009

    I thought I might just add this, Kenyans have a very weird habit of introducing themselves in this way, and I quote "My names are Rose Wanjiru Kamau" There is no such things as names.Logically it makes sense, but grammatically it is incorrect.Look at your passport,ID etc there is no such thing as names.English did come by ship but if you are going to use the language you better get it right.I stand corrected is there an English woman out there who can confirm this please stand up!

  • shiku steve
    Mar 07, 2009
    Mar 07, 2009

    There are some universal grammatical errors the world make regardless of originality.Names,is one of them,therefore I change your subtitle to-the world and names-not Kenyans and names! Thank you for correcting us.

  • Ebuntemi
    Mar 11, 2009
    Mar 11, 2009

    Well names, names and names. They have meanings where I am from but I have had a series of nicknames that I don't really like.

    What is your name? I have five original names, my surname inclusive. However, during this journey of growing up, I have had many nicknames, some I dropped while others stuck. And also, a pen name.

    My first name is 'Temitayo' which means that 'mine is joyous' so every time one calls my name it is a prayer for joy...okay. I have a pen name: Ebuntemi, which was formed from two of my names 'Temitayo' and 'Ebunoluwa' and which means 'my own gift'. While growing, I guess around eleven or twelve, I gave myself an English name: Jennifer, don't mind me, guess I felt I was long due to take on an English name without knowing the meaning, now I know courtesy of Jennifer Ruwart. If the meaning is fair as in complexion, then I got it all wrong...but if it's fair as in justice, well maybe the name brought the attribute on!

    Nicknames...each one has a story, but most of them were built around my small stature. As I recount them, you may laugh if you want, cos I am laughing too, they include: 'Small but Mighty', 'Petite', petitetayo', 'Olof', 'Jolof', 'Tolof', 'Kekere' 'Orente', etc.

    My first name and my surname mean a lot to me: the first for obvious reasons, the second because I want to enjoy it while it lasts, the way it is because it may soon become a compound name with another man's.

    Well, I still believe that the power to shape your life lies in your hands but there is the part where one may begin to live out the truth hidden in one's name (am I being superstitious, religious or philosophical?)

    However, one thing about names whether first names, nicknames or surnames is that they tell where you have been! They are signs that tell stories. That's all for now!

    Hope to hear from you all...

  • Ayobami Olusola
    Mar 13, 2009
    Mar 13, 2009

    Olakitike, is a name my paternal grandmother gave me. In Yorubaland, children are given a praise name called ORIKI. I am a first child of two first children, so I have two ORIKI's. From my mother's side I got Anike. I prefer Olakitike because it is unique, I haven't met anyone else with the name. I don't have an accurate idea of what my name means. Though I know it generally means Wealth and Care. I think its hard to decode because my paternal grandmother belongs to a different sub-group of the Yoruba ethnic group and the name is sort of in her dialect. I haven't seen her in over 10 years. The first thing I will ask her when I see her is what the name means exactly. I love the name though because its so unique! Again being a first child of two first borns, I have so many nicknames and names. Each grandparent, uncle and aunt has their own pet name for me! Even my mum calls me two names at a time! I have not taken any name, I simply pick a new one from the endless repertoire my overjoyed relatives provided years ago at my naming ceremony. I haven't even exhausted them yet. I however chose to omit Victoria when I got into the university. I replaced it with another Yoruba name that had more significance for me. In my house, I can usually tell my mums mood based on which name or how many names she uses at the beginning of a conversation. Names are almost like a ritual with my maternal grandmother. I love it when I kneel to greet her and she launches into the family praise song, reciting my names along the way. I feel like a part of an unending chain, hearing the names of ancestors I never knew. I hope someday my grandchildren will sing my name to their grandkids too, and tell of my exploit!