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Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

On-line version ISSN 2309-9070
Print version ISSN 0041-476X


CHAUDHARI, Shamiega. 'From today onwards, your name is February!' Naming and name stripping in texts of Diana Ferrus, I. D. du Plessis and Rayda Jacobs. Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2013, vol.50, n.2, pp.29-46. ISSN 2309-9070.

This article examines naming as the core of identity and how the stripping of a name can lead to the loss of identity. In South African history the colonisation of the Cape Colony since 1 652 is considered the start of forced labour and slavery. Although slavery had a major impact on South African history, limited slave narratives about their personal and life experiences are available. Their identity was hardly of interest to the colonists and it is therefore not surprising that the colonists were not concerned about the effects and consequences of name stripping on the marginalized slave. Naming is an ancient practice which deserves to be explored in its relation to identity. Naming and identity are inextricably linked. Richard D. Alford found that no single society exists which does not bestow personal names on its members. A personal name leads to individualisation and once it occurs naming enters the realm of identity. The effects of name stripping still surfaces centuries later with many descendents being unable to trace their family roots. Despite extended postcolonial research on various related fields, not much emphasis has been placed on naming and/ or name stripping of personal names in South Africa. This article explores the cognition of naming and the consequences of name stripping in contemporary Afrikaans literary texts. It argues that by stripping individuals from their names, they are torn from their history, place and culture. It specifically highlights naming techniques such as pejorative, calendar, classical and biblical names used to dehumanise and disempower slaves. These techniques will be examined in texts from three literary genres, the novel, The Slove Book by Rayda Jacobs, short stories in Drie Wêrelde ["Three Worlds"] by I. D. du Plessis and the poem, "Ons komvandaan" ("My Ancestry") by Diana Ferrus.

Keywords : identity; marginality; namestripping; naming.

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