Name Change Story: Nzingha

Nzingha Motisla Masani was given her African name at a naming ceremony in 1974. Many friends and family members disapproved of (or simply didn’t acknowledge) her name change, but some of the people she encountered strongly approved:

I got my name changed while I was working for a politician, and I went to a lot of community meetings. And I got up one night at this ninety-five percent Polish meeting. I told them proudly that, “Please do not call me by my old name, my birth name. I’m proud to tell everyone that my new name is Nzinga Motisla Masani.” […] And they gave me a standing ovation. Well a lot of the Polish people came up to me after the meeting and they had to immediately change their name when they got here in order to get a job, or in order to fit into society. They admired me for doing it and they said that some of what I said to them motivated them to tell their children the importance of their history and the importance of your name.

Sources: Nzingha Masani and Noah Hairston – StoryCorps, StoryCorps Griot: Back to Her Roots


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