Day Three of #BlogTemberChallenge #30DayAfriBlogger
Those who’ve interacted with me on Twitter probably know me as uMaMoyo123. It’s not a random name, neither is it derived from combining the first two letters of my first name with my surname. MaMoyo is my cultural name and simply means “daughter of Moyo.”
The first person to ever call me MaMoyo was my paternal grandmother, Mbuya vaMaSibanda (grandmother, daughter of Sibanda).
Strangely as a child I resented that name and preferred to be called Matilda. Apart from sounding too mature, MaMoyo lacked the exclusiveness of my first name. You can imagine how many MaMoyos there were in the clan, particularly at family gatherings because my aunts, sister and cousins were all MaMoyos too. I also secretly suspected that my grandmother, rather than master all our names, opted for the default name MaMoyo for all of us. Of course that was clever of her, you can never go wrong with the cultural name. I didn’t realise then, that she was asserting who I was according to my cultural identity.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed an appreciation for the name and embraced my cultural identity. There’s a certain dignity that comes with being called by one’s cultural name. It conotes a high level of respect because it’s not just anybody who calls me by that name, it’s usually mature people who appreciate its cultural meaning. It also has an affectionate ring to it.
I am a Karanga, a sub-group of the Shona and my ancestry can be traced back to the Rozvi Empire, the architects and builders of the Great Zimbabwe where this country derives its name. I guess that means there are some droplets of royal blood in me. (Call me Princess – jokes).
Moyo is the most popular name in Zimbabwe, we literally fill up the telephone directory. During one of the national elections I participated in, to ease the work for those who were checking our eligibility to vote, we queued up in alphabetical order according to the first letter of our surnames. People whose surnames start with less common letters were grouped together. However, those whose surnames start with C’s and M’s queued on their own and within the M’s the Moyos had their own queue, that’s how populous we are.
Once, when I forgot my bank account number and asked the lady at the enquiries desk for help I was told “sorry ma’am, with a surname like that it could take a whole day so as a standard rule we don’t offer that service to Moyos” so I had to go back home to fetch my card.
The uniqueness of Moyos is that they can be found in both of Zimbabwe’s two major tribes, Shona and Ndebele. Moyo means a heart in Shona.
Zimbabwe has 10 provinces, namely Bulawayo, Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands.
My parents are from the Midlands province, which by its name implies being located in the middle. It’s one of the provinces where the two tribes are mixed. Of course now anyone can settle anywhere in the country but previously, certain tribes dominated particular parts of the country. One will find that Zimbabwe is divided largely into the Mashonaland and Matabeleland regions, with the Shona being the predominant tribe in Mashonaland and the Ndebele and other tribes occupying Matabeleland.
My family speaks both Shona and SiNdebele fluently because of our Midlands heritage. We’ve always been encouraged to use the language that best expresses the message we wish to convey. It’s not surprising to find people with a first name in SiNdebele and a Shona surname in our corner of the country. For instance, my father’s first name was in SiNdebele, while his siblings’ names were in either Shona or English. The same applies to most of my relatives. Names are given more for their meaning and the language is secondary.
That’s who I am in a nutshell. I won’t go into details about our cultural practices and customs as each one requires a blog post of its own.
Image source: http://bit.ly/2ewdxx9
Map source: http://bit.ly/2xHGlLn