Do the names that you give your children affect their lives ? Ask the world about Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela!
Are you one of those people who believe that the name that you give your child will influence how they grow up and develop ? Would naming a boy Samson or a girl Delilah determine strength and allure ? If you are a student of history would naming a son Winston assure him the strength and bulldog determination of Churchill ? And would a Maggie develop the toughness of a Thatcher ?
Ask amongst your friends. Did any of them carefully checked the meaning behind the names that they were about to give a new-born child? Who of them not only like the sound of the name that they choose or the fact that it is a family name handed down through the generations also need to be satisfied that the meaning behind the name is one that they would be content with ?
Did you know that Alexander is the Latin form of the Greek name “Alexandros”. The name’s meaning is interpreted from “alexein” which means “to defend” plus “andros” which translates to “man, warrior”. Hence the meaning: Defender of Men ? I remember well an “Alexander” that I was at university with. A larger than life man who was on the SRC and who stood up passionately for his beliefs.
What about ‘Mark” . The first is Mars, the Roman god of war and perhaps means ‘consecrated to the god Mars’ and thus a warrior. I don’t know about you, but all of the Marks that I know (5 at the last count) are strong determined people.
Turning to girls’ names what about Hilary ? Derived from the Old Roman name “Hilarius” from the Latin “hilaris” meaning “of good cheer” Are all the Hilary’s you know cheerful people ? (Or at least who tend to look on the bright side of life ?) What about Hilary Clinton?
At a personal level our daughter’s name is Nicola. The name is the French feminine version of the Greek name “Nikolaos” which is derived from “nikē” (victory) and “laos” (people). So Nicole basically translates to ‘people of victory.’ And a person of ‘victory’ she certainly is! A strong Christian who has held leadership roles in education and in her church and I know of no-one else who thinks more positively !
And so we come to our own much loved past president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
‘Nelson’ is the transferred use of an English surname meaning “son of Neil”. Nelson developed as a patronymic surname (passed from the father) and is said to mean “champion”. Wow ! A champion without peer in history ! Incredible !
“Rolihlahla” in the Xhosa language literally means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but more commonly translates as “troublemaker.” Few would suspect that when Nelson Mandela was given this name at birth the only ‘trouble” that he would make would be to turn the ruthless apartheid system completely on its head and unite the people as was never thought possible – and while he was about it that he would make sure that the eco-environment of the land of his birth would endure as a legacy far beyond his presidency.
Some interesting thoughts : Was the allocation of Madiba’s Xhosa name prophetic ? Was the ‘coincidence: of his (later) name of Nelson – given to him by a cleric at the Christian school that he attended – also prophetic? I leave it to you to decide ! (I know what I think!)