In February of 2017 I published a post on my blog title ‘My Name’, which speaks about the battles, and challenges I have had with accepting my ethnic name with confidence. I have always been very proud of my heritage and where I come from, but having my name which is one of the direct representations of my identity, be seen as foreign scared me from accepting the beauty and power of it with confidence. Where I come from, you are not just named because it was all your parents could think of, or it had a nice sound to it. I wasn’t named out of creativity in order to have the ‘coolest’ celebrity child name. We are named based on the experiences of our people, community, family and parents. I was named due to my family’s unexpected survival through pain and violence in Sudan and Egypt. When I was born all my parents believed was that ‘God was with them’ (Emanuela) and that the blessing of a child in the middle of hardships was a blessing ‘From God’ (Dobijoki). I have spent my life identifying as Emanuela because it was easier to pronounce and it was also what was written in my birth certificate.
My ethnic name Dobijoki was excluded socially because of the fear that I would be even more different than what my skin, hair and ethnic language already presented. I was only called Dobijoki at home by my parents; and usually when I have accomplished something or when they were super upset with me. My ethnic name came first when something was significantly meaningful to my family and community – yet everyone I knew called me Emanuela or ‘E’.
Dobijoki is a part of my identity that I have learned to be proud of regardless of whether it is mispronounced. I have vowed to teach everyone I encounter the proper pronunciation if they are to struggle, just as I have been taught to pronounce some of the most challenging European names. My Africanness is not to shame me, but it is to guide me throughout this journey called life. I am Dobijoki Emanuela Bringi – and I sincerely love and appreciate my name.
Thank you to Muthoni for your inspiration in helping me solidify my ethnic name as part of my full name regardless of what setting I may be in.