13 September 2013
Many years ago, I read a beautiful passage of scripture, in which God says to Israel that he will give her a new name, and a crown, one which the hand of the Lord would bestow. This spoke to me. I always had a sense the Lord would give me a new name – I just didn’t know it would be an Acholi name!
Yesterday evening, I was down visiting mamas and their families in the birth center. One TBA, Akongo Scovia, was there with a mom being treated for a UTI. She invited me to eat with them, so I did. Sitting on a grass mat, eating cooked eggplant and posho out of a small pot with our hands, we carried on a conversation, with me speaking in my very limited Acholi. In the course of our exchange, Scovia decided to give me a name: Abey Scovia.
Abey & Scovia
In Acholi culture, it is the responsibility of the midwife to name the baby (though the family may also give the name if the midwife does not). Then, sometimes, TBAs give names to foreigners who have been accepted by the community. So I was blessed!
It was so amazing to me that Scovia decided to do this because earlier in the day, I had been saying to my friend, the extraordinary Laker Christine, that I wished I could have an Acholi name and maybe she could pick one for me. Christine said the TBAs are the ones who choose names, but she would still try to think of a name. So when Christine came to the birth center and found out Scovia had decided to give me a name, we laughed!
Christine said that “Abey” means “a loved one, a beautiful one.” Wow. I said to Christine, “I thought it just meant ‘good’” – because the word for ‘good’ in Acholi is bey. “Yes, that too,” Christine said. “It is the same family of words.” As for Scovia, it is actually an English name, and Scovia has given me her own name to show our connection and that she herself gave this name to me.
Later in the night, Christine said, “I am glad it was not Lanyero,” which means ‘laughing stock,’ “or Akwero,” which means ‘the rejected one.’ “I’m glad it is Abey. That is a good name!”