What’s in a name? The missing syllabus in our curriculum


WHAT’S in a name is a whole question of a people’s identity and their history and survival together as a people and as individuals.
An inscription on the door of the shrine of the Oracle of Delphi in Ancient Greece says ‘Man know thyself’.
The Oracle of Delphi was an African woman sage abducted from Africa to instruct the Greeks in matters of wisdom, civilisation and survival.
If you don’t know that she was an African prophet, it’s because her name and identity were changed from African to that of her kidnappers.
That is the importance of “What’s in a name?” lies.
And the answer is, “Man know thyself.”
The so-called classical Greek philosophy, if you know your history, is an African stolen legacy. And the so-called Western civilisation is also African stolen legacy.
Pushkin was African, but he is taught as Russian in our schools.
The prophets of the Bible are African, but are painted as white in our homes and churches.
Coleridge is taught as British in our schools, but he was a black man.
Some of you are hearing this for the first time and are surprised.
And you still ask, “What’s in a name?”
Coleridge means ‘coloured’.
He was a finer poet than Wordsworth who stole his ideas and reputation, because he was a white man.
When you lose your name to the white man, you lose your soul and become a whiteman.
The black man will be dead to history and generations to come.
That’s why we say, what’s in a name, is a whole question of a people’s legacy which involves their identity, history and survival both as a people and individual persons.
The story of Oedipus, again adopted from Africa by the Greeks and revised as theirs, is a good example.
It teaches the dangers of abandoning yours and adopting what is not yours, both in terms of people, children, and culture.
Oedipus was adopted by foster parents who gave him their own identity as their son.
His own parents had dumped him when the Oracle said he would kill his father and marry his mother when he grew up.
That’s why his parents fastened his ankles together to prevent him from crawling to safety, and dumped him, to die.
And again, you ask, “What’s in a name?”
Oedipus means, swollen feet or ankles.
The medical term, ‘Oedema’, for swollen feet comes from ‘Oedipus’, the name his foster parents gave him.
But one day a drunken man told Oedipus that he was a bastard.
Oedipus told his foster parents about it and they denied it as a lie.
Oedipus was still worried and asked the Oracle about it.
The Oracle only said he would kill his father when he grows up and marry his mother.
Oedipus fled from his foster parents to avoid killing what he thought was his father and marrying what he thought was his mother.
While on the run, Oedipus and his natural father met.
His natural father was on his way to consult the Oracle on several omens he had been experiencing concerning the return of his son, whom he thought was dead, to kill him and marry his own mother.
A misunderstanding ensued between Oedipus and his natural father.
They fought and Oedipus slaughtered his father and continued on his journey.
On the way he met a Sphinx that devoured travellers who failed to answer the riddle, “What walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three in the evening?”
Oedipus said the answer was “Man” and the Sphinx died.
The people of Thebes where Oedipus was heading gave him a hero’s welcome for killing the Sphinx, not knowing that he was the same one who had killed their King.
Oedipus himself did not know that the man he had killed was the King in question, let alone his father.
The people crowned Oedipus their new King and his mother as his Queen and wife.
Oedipus and his mother begot two sons and two daughters.
The murder of the King angered the gods and unleashed a plague that caused infertility to crops, animals and people all over the land.
The Oracle said the plague would only stop when the King’s murderer was found and proper burial rites carried out according to tradition.
Oedipus swore to find the killer and punish him, but a blind prophet warned against it.
When Oedipus insisted, the prophet revealed the truth.
Oedipus’s mother hanged herself with shame.
Oedipus blinded himself and his two sons slaughtered each other fighting for the throne.
And do you still ask, “What’s in a name?”
All these abominations of sons killing their fathers and marrying their own mothers, of daughters sleeping with their fathers and siring children with them, of wives killing their husbands and siring children with their own sons, and of brothers sleeping with their sisters and marrying their cousins and nephews and nieces and begetting children with them, are the result of not knowing and respecting one’s true name and ancestry.
As Malcolm X says, when a people are stripped of their name, identity and language, of their history and cultural knowledge, they are brought down to the level of mere animals, and will behave like animals, and sire children with their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins and nieces, just like animals do.
This is what the whiteman did with Africans he kidnapped from Africa and enslaved.
He stripped them of their African names and identities and knowledge of their history and culture.
He taught them his own history and culture, and named them after himself, like he names his own white children, horses, cats and dogs, and makes them sleep with their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters like animals do, to breed more slaves for him as his beasts of burden.
Yet we continue to name our children after the white man as our god.
Our schools continue to teach our children to laugh at our own history, culture and values and teach them to emulate, imitate and adore the history, religion, culture and values of the white man as a superior race.
For example, our Constitution says our children have the freedom to leave the cultures of their parents and follow the cultural life of their own choices.
The same Constitution says, “A child found in Zimbabwe who is, or appears to be, less than 15 years of age, and whose nationality and parentage are not known, is presumed to be a Zimbabwean citizen by birth.”
Well, as Achebe has said, “When one finger brings oil, it soils the rest.”
The disaster and bestiality that the adoption of one person, Oedipus, brought onto the land should be instructive.
The Greeks call it tragedy.
We call it ‘ngozi’.
Chancellor Williams calls it, “The destruction of the African race.”


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