For my two years prior to coming to Namibia, I worked at Starbucks. Happy #PSL season, y’all! If you have ever been to Starbucks, you know that after you order your friendly barista writes (or attempts to write) your name on your cup. From a simple task such as this, you realize how important someone’s name is. For goodness sake, there are websites devoted to barista fails. Why is this such a big deal? Because it is. Your name is part of your identity. Without a name, how will you know that the quad grande half-caf 2.5 pumps vanilla latte with 4 Splendas, no foam, stirred, at 127 degrees sitting on the edge of the counter is yours?
Okay, I need to stop bringing up my painful past.
Names are a part of every culture. Names give us a sense of belonging, uniqueness, and identity. It’s strange to think that names cannot be taken from us and they don’t die. Names are important. In some cultures, due to high infant mortality, infants are not even given a name until after their first birthday. While in other cultures, particularly in Namibia, people are given two names: a birth name and a Christian name.
Quite often when introducing myself (Edina lange oKrystal or simply Ame Krystal) and asking for one’s name in return (Ove lye?), I typically get more than just that.
For example, it’s usually something along the lines of, “My name is Tobias, it means God is good”.
Meanwhile, I’m over here like, “My name is Krystal, it means clear or rock or something.”
Knowing a person’s name builds a connection. People, no matter where they dwell, feel connected when you know their name. It makes you feel wanted, needed, it builds trust and relationships.
It’s a tradition that PCV are given a name by their host communities. I was a little reluctant at first, because immabehonest. I like my name. I feared that my Namibian name wouldn’t suit me or I wouldn’t like it or I wouldn’t remember it or even respond to it. You know? Reasonable fears.
I also imagined it would be some larger ceremony where everyone in the community would gather with drums and fire as I received my new name
So, ladies and gents, the moment you have been waiting for… now introducing, Miss Krystal Ndapandula.
And guess what? I don’t hate it. And I actually respond to it.
Ndapandula (pronounced Ndaw-pan-doola) means thank you. This name was given to me by my host brother, Freddy.
Ndapandula is a common name in Namibia. When I introduce myself as Krystal Ndapandula, it makes me feel more “Wambo”. But, also ‘Krystal’ is hard for locals to pronounce, so throwing in ‘Ndapandula’ is the icing on the cake. I think my community appreciates my efforts of integrating.
Each day as I become more and more cognizant of my responsibility to others, I want to live up to the name I was given. By humbling myself to serve a higher purpose beyond me and by putting my community’s needs above my wants for my community, I strive daily to be a volunteer Ondobe is actually thankful for.
❤ Miss Krystal Ndapandula
*Also, completely unrelated: We have now observed daylight savings here in Namibia, so with that information, I am now 6 hours ahead of EST and 7 hours ahead of CST.*