Zambezi Kiwi

Living in Zimbabwe

What’s in a name?

March 8, 2019

It is official. Will Henson, the man I married, is now Jamie Henson. It’s on our business cards, our website, our email addresses…everything.

Strangely, I’m starting to adapt to the name, and have even called him Jamie to his face, in private, when it was absolutely unnecessary to do.

In public, it has become a survival mechanism. Only a handful of people know him as Will anymore.

Shongwe Lookout – Business Card

BUT, the saga continues with my name. It turns out that Zimbabweans REALLY struggle to remember “Narelle”.

I first realised this when I was chatting to a vague acquaintance and decided to re-introduce myself.

“Say that again,” he said, literally leaning in and staring at my lips, as I repeated slowly and clearly “Na-relle”.

“Ah,” he said, tapping the side of his head. “Got it. Runelle.”

My eyes nearly popped out of my head, but seeing that he was an older gentleman I decided just to roll with it…besides, it is not the first time I’ve been called Runelle. Apparently it is an Afrikaans name, and not uncommon.

I was telling this story to a couple who are slightly better acquaintances (if you are reading this, know that I love you. I found this all hilarious) for a bit of a laugh, when the husband interrupted with; “I know how to remember it.”

We looked at him expectantly.

“Laurelle, like, I’m resting on my laurels.” He grinned proudly.

His wife mercifully corrected this one by pointing out my name was more like Merrell, the shoe brand.

At that point I realised I had a problem on my hands.

Added to this is the complication of trying to communicate our names to officials. For some unknown reason this escalate rapidly into total chaos the moment we open our mouths to spell.

Juts the other day I had to spell my first name. I started (quite logically, I thought) with “n”. The official wrote down “i”. I tried to tell him it was actually “n”. He added an “n” after the “i”. I asked for the pen and wrote it myself.

Will, on the other hand, was trying to spell our last name. He got to the “n” and it turned into an “a”.

“No, n” he said.

The official added an “a” after the “n”. In the end, our names were recorded for entry to the National Park as “Heanfon”. It’s all bringing back terrible memories of whether or not we are really residents in Zimbabwe, since neither of our names were spelled right on our residence permits.

So there you have it. Jamie/Will Heanfon\Heanson and Runelle/Lorel/Merryl Nenson are here and ready to make their mark on Zimbabwe…if only anyone could remember who we were.

4 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. David Henson says:

    Hilarious Runelle/Merrill/Narelle, it gives you a great understanding as to why Annalie is now Annalise/Emily/Aanna and Gerard is Gert, Johannes is John, Annatjie is Anna, van der Westhuizen has become West! Oh the joys of moving to a new country, in our case New Zealand. At least we find the Te Reo pronunciation comes naturally to us.


  2. Daphne Reed says:

    So funny sort of 😂 I often get called Stephanie instead of Daphne


  3. Japheth says:

    While I don’t mind being called Kevin and other agreed-upon, legitimate and premeditated nicknames, I also struggle to understand people’s incapacity to cognizantly process a perfectly straightforward name such as Jacob. I am often called Jason, Joseph and even Jacobs!


  4. Marcella says:

    Laughing out loud 😂😂 I understand your pain and that’s in Nz 😳


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