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

Name Story: Parris Afton Bonds

Prolific romance author Parris Afton Bonds — who co-founded both Romance Writers of America and the Southwest Writers Workshop — explained the origin of her first and middle names in an article from 1981:

“I’d like to tell you I was named after Paris, France,” Parris Afton Bonds told me as I visited her in her house outside Lewisville, “but I wasn’t. It was Paris, Kentucky.” She was, however, named after the River Afton in Scotland, and she pointed to a bottle on her bookshelf, still bearing a Schweppes label, that was filled with Afton water.

Other sources specify that Parris was in fact conceived in Paris, Kentucky.

Btw, did you know that Afton (as a girl name) has been particularly popular in Utah?

Source: Harrigan, Stephen. “Behind the Purple Page.” Texas Monthly Jan. 1981: 139-141.

Two Babies Named Ivernia

The British ocean liner SS Ivernia (1899-1917) made many voyages between Europe and North America during the early 1900s. Various babies were born on board during these years, and at least two of these babies were given names to honor the ship.

The first was born in May of 1906, while the Ivernia was sailing from Liverpool to Boston. A Polish passenger (“Mrs. Micholius Pacer”) welcomed a baby girl named Pauline Ivernia Pacer.

ivernia, baby, news, 1906

The second was born in April of 1914, when the Ivernia was sailing from Naples to New York City. A Hungarian passenger (“Mrs. Sandor Szentkiraly”) welcomed a baby girl named Gazilla Ivernia Szentkiraly.

The word “Ivernia” is a version of the geographical term “Hibernia,” which was used by ancient Greek and Roman writers to refer to the island of Ireland.

Sources:

  • “Ivernia Met Fogs and Gales.” Boston Evening Transcript 11 May 1906: 3.
  • “Two Babies Born on Ship.” New York Times 27 Apr. 1914.

Baby Named “Nimrod Shackleton”

Years before the the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Ernest Shackleton led the Nimrod Expedition to Antarctica. The party set sail from Lyttelton, New Zealand, on January 1, 1908.

A few months later, a New Zealand newspaper reported that a local baby had been given an expedition-inspired name:

What would the infants say if they felt the full weight of the names that are put upon them? Since Lieut. Shackleton left for the Antarctic with the Nimrod a baby — presumably a boy — at Lyttelton has been christened “Nimrod Shackleton.” Shall we hear of a dainty wee girl being dubbed Mollymawk, and will these islands be by-and-bye picturesque with Albatross Jones, King Edward VII Land Smith, Penguin Peterson, Antarctica Adams?

I can’t find any record of the baby, but I can tell you that a “mollymawk” is a type of albatross whose name comes from the Dutch word mallemok (from mal, “foolish,” and mok, “gull”).

Sources:

Indonesian Baby Named “Asian Games”

The 2018 Asian Games, which lasted from August 18 to September 2, was co-hosted by the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

On opening day, just hours before the opening ceremony, a couple in Palembang welcomed a baby girl. She arrived a month ahead of schedule.

Parents Yordania Denny (dad) and Vera Nova (mom) were ready with the first name Abidah. In honor of the sporting event taking place in their city, though, chose to add a second name: “Asian Games.” This made their daughter’s full name Abidah Asian Games. (Like many Indonesians, she has no surname.)

Sources: Meet ‘Abidah Asian Games’, Couple Names Their Newborn After Sporting Carnival in Indonesia, Keluarga Unik di Palembang, Nama Anaknya Adiba Asian Games, Bapaknya Yordania