Poem: What’s My Name?

Naomi Zabasajja April 11, 2014

African man


Lord, look at all those consonants

I used to apologize before someone would have to pronounce it in front of a group
Giggle when the background noises of other mispronunciations rose
Get hot with frustration when a so-called educator couldn’t say it
Really, it’s phonetic
Vowels intertwine with the foreign hard sounds that lace together an intimidating name with an intimidating meaning:


As Zabasajja makes tongues twist and eyes squint
They fear their ignorant throats will not be able to concoct the spell my haunting name will cast on their simple lifestyles
Among the Smiths and Jones and Johnsons of the world
appears the rare but beautiful mash-up of names as scary as they are surfeited with passion
As I used to hunch my shoulders before being called for attendance
Feebly raise my hand after the disgraceful pronunciation was announced
Harassed with the questions of how to say the words without stumbling
I realize they are careless.
Not willing to offer me the mere amount of respect it takes to simply give my name the exalting it deserves
It was erected by hard hands and broken backs
Tired eyes and hurt skin
All that made me possible, all that made Zabasajja possible.
All that elevated me and my cousins into the blood of our forefathers that considered the name worthy unto them
I feel it, but I guess they never will.
My name is Zabasajja.

And I like my name.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: March 25, 2016


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