What is in a name?

Hind sight is 20-20.

As an avid student of history, I believe that in looking back, we understand where we are and how we got here and hopefully, prepare for where we are going or want to go. One of the most intriguing things about history is how names, words, symbols, emblems, standards etc. always tend to provide insights into a society’s norms and values, important events, its culture and belief system.

I never paid much attention to my names until the day I reported for a new role in a certain company that was more parastatal than it was private. On my first day, i was taken on a tour to get to know the company and the people. In the process, i was repeatedly asked uncomfortable and unwelcome questions about my names. I think i was too clueless and shocked to read between the lines so imagine my shock when I realized it was all a tribal mapping exercise! I mean, who does that? This was 2009 by the way so the post election issues of 2008 were still fresh in the air! How does an entire organization survive on such a culture? That my tribe would be such a fundamental issue and a huge determinant of my existence and success in the organization was a battle i faced over and over again and by the time i left, i was a sad individual.

In the last few days, i have found myself asking myself many questions around my identity as a child of God vis a vis my tribe in a post election Kenya. How is it that we as believers are always more aware of our tribes especially around elections? When did it become ok for us to refer to each other by our tribes and exalt that above our identity as bond servants of Christ? How is it even ok for us to map churches to geopolitical locations? Shouldn’t we have been the unifying factor for the nation? More importantly, how do we come back from that? Please tell me – I really would like to know.

Anyway – what’s in a name? In Kenya, apparently everything!


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