Posted by: Dr. Y. | January 18, 2012

‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe

African Savanna

African Savanna

I just thought about what happened to our fathers, mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers during colonial times: to go to school African children were forced by European missionaries to adopt a christian name such as John, Peter (Jean, Pierre), etc… as opposed to their good old African name Nomzimo, Makeba, Ndoumbe, Keïta, etc.  Thus many Africans who would have just worn the name ‘Ndoumbe Mpondo‘ or ‘Binlin Dadié‘ or ‘Um Nyobé‘ had to adopt a European name such as John + their own name, such that they became: John Ndoumbe Mpondo or Bernard Binlin Dadié or Ruben Um Nyobé.  To this day, the tradition has remained… most Africans would have three or four names: their family name, and their given name, plus the European first name and in some cases a European middle name as well.  The poem below entitled ‘My name‘ by the South African poet Magoleng wa Selepe captures this very well.

My Name

Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

Look what they have done to my name……..

the wonderful name of my great-great-grandmother

Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

The burly bureaucrat was surprised

What he heard was music to his ears

‘Wat is daai, se nou weer?’

‘I am from Chief Daluxo Velayigodle of emalu podweni

And my name is Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa.’

Messia, help me !

My name is simple

And yet so meaningful

But to this man it is trash…..

He gives me a name

Convenient enough to answer his whim…..

I end up being



Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

by Magoleng wa Selepe


  1. Amazing poem, great writing before end! It made me understand a lot about the naming in our culture.

  2. Thank you for liking my blog.

  3. Good insight..its sad to know how things sometimes take shape tho…thsnks for visiting my blog 🙂

    Keep blogging

  4. Check it out men

  5. What a thought provoking poem. I was given a name Mapula by my grandmother but it was never used or registered by mom instead Patricia was used so as to make it easier for her employers to call my name.

  6. ‘My name’ is such a wonderful poem to go through especially today,because its freedom day!

  7. 10/10

  8. I taught this poem to my grade 7 Xhosa learners. They absolutely love it. One of them dramatized it in a competition and won a first prize. By the way, I am a white teacher

    • Lovely poem indeed for a classroom study. Great idea! I love the idea of dramatizing the poem. Congratulations to the student for winning first prize.
      Thanks for commenting on the blog.

  9. My name was also changed by this colonials my forfathers which was given to me which belonged to my greategreate grandfather is Mmushi bt was changed to be Moshe.

  10. i rly lv ths poem m a grd11 learner n i enjyd it

  11. It excites me to read this poem tjo i like it

  12. Ajmjaja

  13. I need the summary,theme and tone of the poem my name by Magoleng Wa Selepe

  14. analysis of this poem is very helpful but what i want to know why they called Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa in stanza number 4 in line 4?

  15. I was also given a name when my mother baptis me in church by white priest and i hate it with passion terressa instead of thabisile.

  16. this poem is wonderful

  17. I want a question and answers plz

  18. Piano Links

    There’s noticeably a bundle to find out about this. I assume you made sure nice points in features also….

  19. i also love this poem it kinda reminds me about our culture

    • I totally agree with you Busi. Thanks for visiting the blog.

  20. I. love the poem alot we even learn about it, at school it. easy to understand n meanful

  21. […] and Resistant to French Imperialism 2. ‘Love Poem for My Country’ by Sandile Dikeni 3. ‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe 4. ‘Femme Noire/Black Woman’ by Leopold Sedar Senghor 5. The Ishango Bone: Craddle of […]

  22. This is such a great poem. It is part of our history. It is meaningful and easy to understand. I’m a grade 11 student, I studied it at school.


    • I totally agree with you Ignatia. It is such an important poem, because it does talk about Africa’s history, and its colonization, and the subtle changes imposed upon us by colonization. Thank you for visiting the blog.

  23. may i ask you question. What indeed had they done to her name ?

    • They had changed her name from Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa to Maria, thus diminishing her existence, her being, the very essence of who she was.

    • they changed her name Sanele, she was given a name called Nomgqibelo and the rude guy named her ”Maria”- how rude.

  24. I just remembered this poem today; I did it at my grade 11 in 2010,is a lovely poem and an illustration on how our parent and fore parents got their name even if they did not like them

  25. i lyk this poem,i’ve been doing it since grade8

    • Thanks Sinalo! Me too!

  26. This is a very inspiring to people thAt have forgotten about their cultures and history of their aNcestors sooner or later they will regret it because you your culture anD Heritage is what maDe you who you are what you are

  27. a name is so much more than a string of sounds and syllables. It’s your heritage, it’s your identity. There is just so much ignorance and disrespect in a person refusing to call you by your name because it is inconvenient for them. This poem is so beautiful in that it captures that idea so simply-yet so profoundly.

    • Absolutely agree with you!

  28. I would like to get the analysis I of this poem my name plz help

  29. Im from chief daluxolo emampondweni

  30. I really love this poem m a grd 10 learner it reminds me my heritage

    • I totally agree with you Mukwebo. This poem indeed remind us of our heritage, and where we come from. Thanks for visiting the blog, and for commenting.

  31. Great poem please provide translation of the words that are written in english
    Thank u

  32. Appreciation to my father who informed me concerning this website,
    this webpage is actually remarkable.

  33. Perfectly put…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: