Saturday, May 5, 2012

Review on "Name Origins and Meanings of the Manyu People of Cameroon." James Ashu, Lap Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011.

Do you know how some of you take ghosts names to insult me when you do not like what I write? You do not need to because some of your names are already ghostly enough. I have heard some names that have made me shudder, others have given me goose bumps, and some just sound like insults. Listen to this: Tingilipingili. Now repeat it in slow motion. Tin-gi-li-pin-gi-li. If that is not an insult, what is it? What type of name is that? I heard a man’s name in the hospital “Mr. Snake.” I turned and asked a patient, “What did this man do for his parents to give him such a wicked name?” He looked at me and said, “I know man; that is mean.” You can hear this in class: Laquandasha Lashoshonda. This sounds like the name of an evil goddess. Surprisingly, there are people with even worst names than that. I heard another name Dirtybird. If anyone with such a name annoys me, I will just repeat his name Dirtybird. What type of insults again do you need if that is not one? Some of us are really lucky having good names like Ayuk which means ebullient and promise keeper who is larger than life; a man who talks and walks the talk. Today I will introduce you to both some beautiful and meaningful and some useless and ugly Manyu names. Most of us have names with only two syllables. James Ashu’s book explains Manyu names, their origins, and meanings, so that some of them will select better names like mine for their kids.
 It is a 91 page book divided into 4 chapters and a reference page. Chapter 1 deals with the origins, Chapter 2, the methods of naming children, chapter three understanding name meanings from Ejagham roots, and chapter 4 is a catalog of  Manyu names and their meanings.  This is the section that really concerns some of you. You must read it! The foreword is exquisitely written by one of our traditional scribes, the great, chief Fred Momanyi. This book is really wonderful as it is the first dealing with our names.  Like Ashu himself said “it is a work in progress.” If you are from Manyu, you need it. Even if you are not but do not feel comfortable with your name, you could borrow a better name here to give to your child, so they do not go through the torture and burden you carry daily called name.  
Do you know why Mbos, Balongs, Bafaws of KupeMuanenguba, and some from Meme and Ndian divisions have the same names with Manyu people? In tracing the origins of the Manyu people, Ashu establishes their roots from the Ekoi and that the British used Mgbe Society as their main instrument of administration.  According to Ashu “all sixteen language groups found in present day Manyu division originated from one source, the Ekoi group (P. 13).” With the change of colonial administrators, the British renamed Ossidinge Mamfe.  Mamfe division was renamed Cross Rover, but the people protested, and the name was changed to Manyu division (P. 15).  What does the name Kembong mean (P. 20)? Do you know why Manyu names do not differentiate between genders? Do you know why both men and women bear the same names? That is “because they believe that children are incarnations of divine spirits or incarnations of spirits of the dead, usually the spirit of dead relatives (P. 23).”
Most Manyu names are usually very long, but they use mostly the first two syllables. For example; Ayukotangnohnjock, the people use Ayuk. The completion of the other four syllables is what they call “mpegheri njyien.” The Manyu people name kids by family, friends or famous people that is why many people have the same names. Some were named according to social events like Ofumgbe (The outing of Ekpe from the bush). They named children by incidents like maternal orphans immediately after birth. That is why you have Baraw (abandoned).
Manyu people in Manyu wonderland used their nom de gueres like Tamfang (thorny tree) or Ako (boulevardier) or Besong they called him Okura (fighter). So the villagers will say Okura Besong as the priest of Effim in Ntenako village.
James Ashu has established a repertoire of names for some of you to know what your names mean. Some of them are really ugly as hell. I feel sorry for those whose name means “excreta (kibi).” Others are simply called mforkibi (King of Excreta). That is eternal insult in the form of a name. Some of them their parents called them ignorance (Kerenghe). If you really want to know what your name, that of your friend, or relative means, please consult the book.
However, because the book covers mostly three divisions, I am launching a competition for Akwaya. Anyone who will compile 200 names from Akwaya Sub-Division before August 31, 2012 will make FCFA 100,000. If you do not win, but your submission is used, you will equitably be compensated financially and also given credit as a contributor.

Until then, did your parents give you a good name?

St Arrey of Ntenako.     

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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