Nyinga en Akinyi

Do you know how your parents chose your name?

Maybe they named you after a favoured grandparent. Maybe after someone they admired with a wish to instil in you some desired quality. Maybe they liked the sound of the name spoken aloud, or the look of it written down. Maybe they thought it was a bit unique (before they realised everyone else was thinking the same thing and you became one of many at school). Maybe they just really, really didn’t want to pick something that could be distorted into bully-fodder!

Whatever their method it probably didn’t involve paying heed to the time of day you came into the world. Or the state of their garden that day.

Rusinga Island, where I’m staying right now, is in western Kenya. Luo country. And Luo’s name their children after all manner of significant scenarios surrounding the birth. Have a look below and see if you can work out what your Luo name might be…

N.B. The female form of the name is preceded by an ‘A’. If you’re a man, replace with an ‘O’.

What time were you born?

  • Morning (7am – 10am): Akinyi
  • Mid-morning (10 – 12noon):  Anyango
  • Midday (noon – 6pm): Achieng
  • Evening (6 – 8pm): Adhiambo
  • Late evening (8 – 12pm): Atieno
  • Night (12 midnight- 7am): Awour

What was going on of relevance to your parents’ farm?

  • Rainy season: Akorth
  • Cloudy day (TOTAL cloud cover): Aluoch
  • Harvest time: Akayo
  • Starting to eat green maize: Awino
  • Famine: Aketch
  • Your farm has a lot of weeds/ you were born on the farm (my teachers were unclear about this one): Abuya
  • Born during the weeding season: Adoyo

Was there something more important going on than the farm?!

  • Born with the head facing down: Auma
  • Your father died before you were born: Achola
  • Born on the way to hospital: Ayo
  • Born when your mother had given birth just 1 – 3 months previously and had not yet had her first postpartum period (??!!): Akumo*

*I lack the medical/ physiological knowledge to understand this clearly but it’s apparently rare and noteworthy!

Or are you a twin?

  • First born: Apiyo
  • Second born: Adongo
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