SOUTH AFRICAN WHITES TO BE GIVEN BLACK NAMES
Leader of Democratic Party resigns in protest
By Dintwe Jonathan
Brooks, TheShortStraw Africa; some parts of Asia; no parts of Europe at
all, not even--lucky for him--Albania correspondent
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (TheShortStraw.com)-Continuing the transformation
from apartheid to democracy and simultaneously righting the wrongs of
yesterday, the South African Parliament passed yesterday the Honkey Name
Act. Accordingly, all whites will now be given black names.
In cases of domestic workers, the (mostly white) employers will be given
the African names of their employees.
Because in the past African names were considered too different and too
hard to pronounce--not to mention remember-- by the whites, South African
blacks were given "European" names.
Thus from birth, for example, Nthabiseng Thsabalala, a domestic worker
in Pretoria, has been known as Chantelle Nthabiseng Thsabalala.
Now, Thsabalala's employer, Mrs Julia Van Rensburg, is known and officially
documented as Nthabiseng Julia Van Rensburg.
The whites, for the most part, are not pleased by the Act. Not even when
their names have an agreeable meaning as in the case of Nthabiseng, which,
in Sotho, means happiness.
"This is an outrage," said Van Rensburg, a surly middle-aged woman with
a shadow of a moustache, "I have carefully cultivated an image of bitterness
and self-pity--and now this. I mean, do I look like an Nthabiseng
Joost Langeveldt echoed Van Rensburg's sentiments. "I've been saddled
with my gardener's name just because my parents and grandparents voted
for the Nats (National Party). I'm all for reconciliation and all that,
but really now, this is going too far. When I call people on the phone
and say my name's Sipho, they hang up on me. It's reverse discrimination,
in reverse-uh, something like that."
Dr. Qaqamba Selwyn Slotzkin stuttered: "Q-q-q-qaqamba is a Xhosa name.
My parents came from Russia. I'm Jewish, for God's sake. I'm a member
of the tribe, but not that tribe. My patients have started calling
me Dr. Q. It's completely absurd. Q-q-q-qaqamba has a slight click on
the first 'q'-I can't even pronounce my own name. When I do, I nearly
choke or have coughing spells. In the past, I didn't entertain any thoughts
of emigrating to Australia like most of my friends, but now I am going
to make enquiries."
Thabo Tony Leon, the leader of the Democratic Party, coincidently now
also having the same first name as the South African President, resigned
"It was bad enough to lose to (President) Thabo Mbeki in the recent elections,"
Leon said. "Now I have to be reminded of it everyday."
The President, seemingly a bit hurt, was unapologetic.
"The whites are an ungrateful bunch," he said. In the case of his
namesake, Mbeki said Leon was particularly unappreciative.
"Thabo means joy. Leon should be overjoyed to be Thabo. I''ve been Thabo
most of my life--there's nothing wrong with it. Oh, sure, I'd have
preferred other names, such as Jean-Paul, or Leroy, or even Archibald--I've
always had a weakness for that name. But none of us can choose our names.
Dammit, Thabo's alright. I'm stuck with it anyway, so there."
In any case, just
like the democratic elections and despite the grumbling, the change seems
to be going through peacefully enough. It has even elicited more than
a few smiles.
Said Nthabiseng Thsabalala: "My Madame is now also Nthabiseng. Of course,
I never call her that to her face, but I think it's just wonderful. Ser-r-r-rious.
How much happiness can one house take?"
Copyright © 2004, TheShortStraw