It’s all in a name

Having just started at a new organisation, there are many introductions to be made. Which unfortunately brings up the hassle of my name, again. Most people in Pumwani have just about got used to my difficult-to-pronuounce-and/or-understand name. But starting in a new place, meeting lots of new faces means lots of introductions.

Lot’s of ‘My name is … (deep breath) … Pippa.’

Pippa. Aka dustbin. Yes, that’s right. My name means dustbin in Kiswahili. Great!

I mean, that’s if people understand it as Pippa. To many, I’m Pepper, or Paper. A source of great amusement.

And when people say, ‘What? Like pili-pili?’ (meaning spice) or ‘Paper? Paper?’ pointing to some paper, or ‘Peeppa? Taka taka?!’(meaning rubbish) I’ve given up trying to explain, no. Not ‘pili-pili’, not ‘paper’, not ‘taka taka’ but Pippa: that’s P.I.P.P.A. Pippa Pippa Pippa. Sometimes it’s easier just to meekly smile and nod my head. Enjoy their amusement at my unfortunate name.

Other times, I try to introduce myself as Pip. That’s not an easy name to grasp either. Kenyans not only have serious problems pronouncing the letter ‘i’, substituting it for ’e’, ‘ee’, or ‘a’ instead, but also have issues with 1 syllable names. I become Pep, Peep or Pap. Or worse. Sometimes it’s Peppe. Even Pee-pee.

Oh the joys of new introductions…

Name pronunciation issues aside,  I’m enjoying meeting the new people at Turning Point and getting stuck into work there.  There’s lots of new faces and names to learn, as well as the runnings of an organisation very different to the familiarity of St John’s. It’s good to have the balance between the new and the familiar, and I enjoyed being back at St John’s last Thursday and Friday.


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