In a couple of days I’ll be looking to add ONE to my 20 years of existence. Am not looking to make a big deal off my first paragraph,The thing is am looking for closure. Yes closure. That thing when you break up with your long time girl friend and you can not seem to get over each other then Jaberreaches out to Jakomand you end up having a conversation thinking that you are making peace with each other but the real thing is you are both lying to yourselves. Anyway hainihusu. My kind of closure is different. Am not breaking up with someone,it’s about my NAME!
I speak dholuo. That statement obviously implies that am a luo. I don’t do it with everyRicky,Nicky and Dawn I meet on the way even though that is what most of my brothers believe in especially the ones from Kendu Bay and beyond , when you meet one of your kind make sure you speak the international language out loud so that everyone around notice that you are a yuropean! Am not for that. People who meet me always get the impression that an am a Maasai,maybe because of my wide and flappy ears. Others say I look like a luhyafor God knows why others say am a Kalenjin even though I don’t say ‘aja hizo’ or ‘Unajoma’ but when I am in the company of someone who doesn’t know I am a luo but happens to be one and my forefathers are pressuring me to notify my brother that we are on the same side, I use the signature ‘omera’ or ‘yaaye’ in the middle of the conversation and the immediate reaction would always be ‘omera kare in jaluo’ (I know you’ll relate)
The answer to all this is because of my middle name.
Sarowiwa. A name I practically started using a few months before I sat for my KCPE. It sat on my birth certificate since 2005 and I never got to take it out for a ride. The head teacher told us we need three names on the answer sheet. I had to make the big revelation.
Everywhere I’ve been to and introduce myself as Bob Sarowiwa, bright,intelligent,smart and I guess well educated people would always smile and just say ‘Oh,Sarowiwa’ because I believe they know where the name comes from. The other group, I tend to waste 30 seconds or at least one minute of my introduction either spelling it out or correcting the wrong pronunciation.
‘Ooh is it Saroriwa?’ ‘Sirwaya, OMG is that even a name?’ or ‘Saromina?’ ‘Bro,are you Ogiek or something?’ What the F… hommie ? I just said Sarowiwa!
For years I had used my fathers name,when it was time for me to take up my own,I went to the one person who would know the real meaning or the reason why I was given that name. My mother.
‘Ma’ why’d you guys name me Sarowiwa?’
‘It was your fathers idea!’
All my three sisters were named by my mother,explains the ‘B’ letter in our first names. When I was born,my mom had her own plans about the name she’d give me ‘incase’ was a boy. The thing is she failed to consult the old man and maybe compare with him and see what he had in mind. Word of advice,Ladies,its not all up to you,involve that guy!
On the night,afternoon, Morning (I don’t even know what time it was because I am not an Otieno,Odhiambo or Onyango to mean Night,afternoon and Morning respectively) of 22nd July my mum gave birthday to me somewhere in Nakuru and planned on naming me ‘Bruce Willys’ ooh my God,seriously? Bruce Willys? Well if it stuck,well and good I would have been the embodiment of a bald headed,old movie star whose movie’s I’ve never enjoyed if not Die Hard. Maybe my mom had watched die hard,I don’t know.
As told by my mom,thinking I was enjoying the story,in the back of my mind asking myself why they didn’t ask for my permission to be born in the first place let alone not be consulted about what name I wanted for myself. That day or what ever time it was,my mother was waiting for a nurse to bring in the birth notification so she could proudly draft the name Bruce Willys on that yellow piece of paper,the old man (young at that time) instead of the nurse walks in and in his hands,holding the much awaited birth notification and breaks the news ‘I named him Bob Sarowiwa!’ Try to imagine the reaction of a woman who was pregnant for the last nine months,was in labor just a few hours ago and had a ‘name’ she would gift herself with for all she had endured and was just robbed of it!
I’ve never gotten the chance to sit my old man down and ask him what he was thinking or what his end game waa. So I asked google.
‘Was there ever someone named Sarowiwa?’
Yes sir there was,one of the best writer and poet to ever come from West Africa,Nigeria. The only thing is that he was executed from fighting against the government in defense of the Ogoni people. Ken Sarowiwa (I wont say much)
A hero,My dad named me after a hero. At least now I see his end game. A legend!
When I was in high school there was this madam teacher of literature who never seemed to stop calling me Saro-w-i-w-a,there is a way she would always put it. When she came across me walking during the breaks, Saro-w-i-w-a. In class,Saro-w-i-w-a. When I walked into the staff room to meet another teacher, Saro-w-i-w-a! When she saw me in her dreams Saro-w-i-w-a. At one point I even started suspecting her,hihi.. she would later come to tell me she always enjoyed Ken Sarowiwa’s books back in her high school days.
Maybe my dad too was a reader of Sarowiwa’s books. Though I’ve never known him as a reader because he was always out there doing what he had to do. The only things I had witnessed him read was the Bible which he does to date,Newspapers though back in the days,news headlines on tv and lastly my report book. These days he’d come home with newspapers and give them to my sister who would then stuff them into a box according to the dates as if they were making an achieve for the sake of History or something.
For a while I’ve stuck to the story of my dad naming me after a writer who’s stories he enjoyed. I’m not planning on asking him. I’m gonna live with that. It doesn’t matter if y’all call me Saroriwa,Saromina or whichever version you choose its still me at least you now know my story,hihi
At one point we all become stories. Just like Ken Sarowiwa so will Otieno,Achieng’ ,Cheptoo,Wafula, Kamau and Bob Saroriwa!
Anyway now that you know all this,I’ve made my peace. Let me here you call me Saromina again.
Don’t be mean,Share!