1st Edition

Names Fashioned by Gender Stitched Perceptions

Edited By Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Madoda Cekiso Copyright 2024

    Names are very powerful and significant, especially in the African context. Across societies, there is a universal, albeit taken-for-granted fact that all human beings have names. Names Fashioned by Gender is a collection of essays on onomastics—a linguistics field of study focusing on the origin, form, history and use of proper names. The study of naming potentially provides significant evidence about the role of gender in the assimilation and/or enculturation processes as personal names evoke insight into the construction of gender and personhood in African societies.

    The book takes intellectual course from the idea that how names are viewed and used is heavily context-dependent and gendered. It demonstrates that personal names are narratives derived from different contexts within various cultures and circumstances subsequently imposing different identities on name bearers. Through persuasive essays, this book elucidates that naming is an activity that needs to be conducted cautiously because names tend to determine the destiny and character of an individual.

    Print editions not for sale in Sub-Saharan Africa.




    Introduction: Towards developing feminist onomastics scholarship

    Thenjiwe Meyiwa and Madoda Cekiso

    Chapter 1: Assessing the origin and perceptions of gendered Yoruba names

    Temitope O. Adekunle

    Chapter 2: Gendered personal names in Yoruba and Chichewa

    Alfred Jana Matiki and Modupe M. Alimi

    Chapter 3: Setswana naming system: a gendered outlook

    Goabilwe N. Ramaeba and Joyce T. Mathangwane

    Chapter 4: Gender stereotypes embedded in the labels of female subjects in a cross section of Zimbabwean music

    Duren Jhamba

    Chapter 5: Child naming and gender transformation in Gutu, Zimbabwe

    Christopher Rwodzi

    Chapter 6: Beyond the name: Maniangas tribe ways of naming

    Luvisa Bibiche Bazola

    Chapter 7: Subculture socio-cultural nicknaming phenomena embedded in izindlavini of amaMpondo of the Eastern Cape

    Thenjiwe Meyiwa and Madoda Cekiso

    Chapter 8: Re-considering the idiom ‘If God is male, then the male is God’ in light of selected Shona personal names among Reformed Church in Zimbabwe Christians in Chivi, Zimbabwe

    Excellent Chireshe

    Chapter 9: Gender in the personal naming practices of the Shona in Zimbabwe: a socio-onomastic study

    Zvinashe Mamvura and Margret Chipara

    Chapter 10: Xhosa female initiates’ (intonjane) perceptions of meanings and values attached to their new names

    Khanyisile Rose Masha and Ilse du Toit

    Chapter 11: ‘Get this straight, that is (not) my name’, retorts a Xhosa woman

    Nolutho Diko

    Chapter 12: ‘Hold the roof woman’: exploring how the naming practices amongst isiXhosa speaking people contribute to a high divorce rate in South Africa

    Nosisi Feza

    Chapter 13: A feminist approach to the naming and circumstances of women in the Bible in relation to the naming of prominent Zulu women

    Nobuhle Ndimande-Hlongwa and Thandi Mwelase

    Chapter 14: An examination of names and gender in Ngugi’s Devil on the cross and I will marry when I want

    Cheela Chilala

    Chapter 15: Gender shift in the use of the formative -no- in Zulu given names

    Adrian Koopman

    Chapter 16: Fluid identities: naming and recognition in NoViolet Bulawayo’s We need new names and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah

    Ken Junior Lipenga

    Chapter 17: Queer(ing) onomastics: names and the construction of non-normative genders and sexualities in selected short stories in Queer Africa: New and collected fiction

    Gibson Ncube

    Chapter 18: A feminist interrogation of Owé gendered naming practices Josephine Olufunmilayo Alexander

    Chapter 19: The gendered nature of naming children among the Shona in Zimbabwe

    Vimbai Matiza-Mtombeni

    Chapter 20: Names of council beer halls and shebeens in Bulawayo: A feminist analysis

    Liketso Dube and Sambulo Ndlovu

    Chapter 21: Anti-women nomenclature: a selection of Zimbabwean ergonyms in family businesses

    Sambulo Ndlovu

    Chapter 22: Interrogating the female politicians selected motherhood and wifehood label in the Zimbabwean print media: The case of the Financial Gazette 2002

    Mandiedza Parichi

    Chapter 23: Rethinking the framing of women in the nation through ‘self-naming’ and ‘self-definition’ of female nationalists in Zimbabwe

    Phillip Mpofu and Charles Tembo

    Chapter 24: Naming female characters to achieve a colonial agenda (‘de-womanisation’ of African womanhood): The case of Zvarevashe’s novel Kurauone

    Tyanai Charamba


    Thenjiwe Meyiwa, a feminist scholar, is the lead editor of this book. She is Deputy Vice-chancellor for Research, Innovation, Commercialisation and Postgraduate Studies at Unisa. She is a member of various parastatals, community and civil society organisations, such as the Rural Women’s Movement where she is the Advisory Board member; the South African National Heraldry Council where she serves as its Chairperson and a Deputy Chair of the National Heritage Council; to name but a few. She has authored several research gender studies articles, including co-publishing five books.

    Madoda Cekiso, the co-editor of this book, is senior professor at Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of English. He has published widely in the field of reading and writing with a significant number of his recent research projects and publications focusing on the gender analysis within this subject field.