Feb 27, 2013

"Give your daughters difficult names..."

Posting on Maori politics will be lighter than usual this year. To make up for that I want to post little bits on or from other indigenous, brown and black cultures and follow that with a discussion. To kick us off, here's a poem from Warsan Shire, a Somali writer:

Give your daughters difficult names. 
Give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. 
My name makes you want to tell me the truth. 
My name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.

Here's a link to the full piece. I thought this would speak to Maori with Maori names. I've never endured the shame and the frustration of having my name mangled, but I feel for those that suffer its dehumanising effects.

Morgan Godfery* - it's a serious name. Morgan is the surname of my maternal grandmother. The name's of Welsh origin and depending on the source means "great kingdom", "great queen" or "great hundred". Godfery is a variation on Godfrey.** God means, well, God, and fery or frey comes from the word fred meaning peace. The name isn't English in orgin - it's Norman - but it appears to be more common across Britain.

Mine is a harsh sounding name. The M sound provides a soft introduction, but the g and n offer a harsh end. However, the order is revered in Godfery. The g and d provide a coarse introduction, but the f and r offer a soft landing. I would've liked a less serious name, and one with softer sounds, but I like my name. I like it because it's mine.

*A very European name for a Maori, but I'm proud of that and the heritage that comes with it.
**I have no idea why it's spelt Godfery and would be eternally grateful to anyone that knew. 


  1. Godfrey is actually Saxon, not Norman. The Normans equivalent of Godfrey would be 'Dieupaix'.

    I get my first name mispronounced all the time, but I wasn't aware that I was experiencing solidarity with indigenous peoples when I did so...

  2. I've never endured the shame and the frustration of having my name mangled

    I know it's what you meants, but I'd have thought your name would have been mis-spelled as Godfrey pretty frequently.



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