My name, Naliaka, is an icebreaker in and of itself and I’m quite pleased to have it. Other people with non Anglo-Saxon names who grew up amongst English speakers will know about the seemingly interminable five seconds after somebody has introduced themselves to you and are waiting to hear your name. You steel yourself to speak slowly and clearly but not so much so as to alarm anyone into thinking you may be having a stroke and then there is nothing left to do but to sound it out.
The truth is I haven’t always liked my name and I used to wish that I had at least one English name, instead of three Kenyan ones, to use in certain situations in day to day life. For instance the first day of class when a teacher is trying to learn everyone’s names and spends ten minutes on yours and everyone turns to stare. Or when you are quickly introduced to a friend of a friend of a friend at a party and know that you will probably never see them again and would rather not engage in the inevitable summation of your family heritage and backstory. (Parents: Kenyan; Upbringing: International). Or anytime that you have to reserve anything in your name. Or when your friend ‘Stacy’ bought herself a bracelet with her name on it when you were 10.
I couldn’t pinpoint one specific transitional life event in which I started liking my name. In all honesty I probably liked fragmented aspects of having my name and then one day found that the fragments added to a whole. For example I like that most people will have never met anyone with my name before me. I like that it is long and can be shortened into different nicknames. I like that it ties me so intrinsically with my family and my heritage. I even don’t mind the questions it leads people to ask, so long as they really want to know the answers.
So as an icebreaker, what is the story behind your name?