The Name Game

Whenever Seth and I need a lighter moment, we play the Name Game. We take turns listing funny English names we’ve heard given to the Africans upon their nativity, and before you know it, we are in tears with hilarity.

You would not believe the variety of English names we’ve heard over here. From Mary Jane to Harry to Kalifonia (California), we’ve heard more English names here than we heard growing up. But here are the funnier ones:

The okay-that-works-but-we-don’t-usually-use-it names. Precious, Gift, Happy, Tiny, Lucky, Blessing, Glory, Memory, Beauty, and Justice; and on to rare names like Oscar, Lawrence, Desmond, Godfrey, Clifford, Yvonne, Archie, and Reginald.

Seth had to pay a parking fee to a female attendant, Vicious.

The home church of one of our LBI students is the Glory Barn Church.

The is-that-an-English-name names. Like Herron. Or Philly (sounds like Pill-y). Lionel. Forster. Irvan. (prounouced more like Ivan) Clifton.

The tyrants. I ascribe this one to typical African lack of affinity for history, not outright ill-will. There are two Hitler’s in our village; one attends our church. What a trophy of grace that would be if he were converted and baptized!

In the cemetery across from our house you will see the grave of Saddam Hussein.  We heard the reasoning for that name at his funeral. His parents said when he was born, they heard that there was a man strong enough to go against America, and they wanted their son to be that strong…thus, Saddam Hussein walked amongst our village streets.

Cultural Icons

A main street in the capital city of Mozambique.

There are the Bible names. Several Solly’s (short for Solomon). Lemuel is a church member. Moxe (Moses) is a child in my Sunday School class. Philemon (pronounced Fill-a-mon) taught us Venda when we first came. Seth teaches Trinity every Wednesday.

Absolutely-made-up names. Skyborne, Loveness (hey, normally -ness makes a noun from a verb, right?), Lovemore, Flovah, Oedipus, Delicia, Strongman, Jastone, Rabbyboy, Edmore, and a family of 5 brothers: Albert (so far so good). Libert. Ebert. Wilbert. And are you ready? Ozbert. 🙂

This one deserves a sentence of its own: Roadblock.

The do-you-know-what-you’re-saying names. (These go along with the category above.) Wastemore. Acres (pronounced Ah-Chris–he’s a teen church member.) He was born in a hospital in Johannesburg named Green Acres.

One of our favorites in this category comes compliments of fellow South African missionaries. They met a Fay-molly.

Sorry, what did you say?


Could you spell that?



Apparently her mother wasn’t sure what to write down in the hospital, so she copied the word that was checkmarked for gender!

And finally, our crowning moment in the Name Game is when we get to the name of a pastor who held a crusade in our teammate’s village down the road. On the handouts, his name was listed as….

Pastor Teargas.

Can’t resist…

“I went to hear Pastor Teargas tonight. The whole audience was moved to tears at his preaching.”

Hope you feel better now.

About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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3 Responses to The Name Game

  1. Christie says:

    So funny! Actually the “Loveness” made me laugh the most because our girls add “ness” to everything! I think it all started when they learned Genesis 1 about the light and the darkness; but it very soon became the lightness and the darkness. And it’s been downhill ever since then. = )

  2. Katie says:

    Oh, my, Amy! This was just too much! It worked — made me laugh! My favorite one so far in Gugulethu is for an elderly man that sometimes attends our services. His name is . . . Spoon! I am soooo tempted to ask if his surname is Fork, but haven’t had the guts to yet! 🙂

    Praying for you as you prepare to leave. I know the excitement/pressure feeling VERY well. I am excited for you all, but so glad it isn’t us getting ready to leave at the moment — I usually age about 10 yrs. EVERY TIME!

  3. Pingback: Back to “Normal” | Ita Vita

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