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A New Naming Trend Emerges in Kenya

Several weeks ago, I had written about a gentleman who named his daughter after the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates. A new trend has developed; this one is also associated with the American presidential elections.

Mothers in Kisumu, Kenya, have celebrated the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States by naming their newborns after he and his wife Michelle. Kisumu is a village in Africa close to where Barack’s father was born.

The day after the elections, there were 15 children born at the local hospital. Five of the male children were named Barack and three of the female children were named Michelle. Many of the mothers interviewed said that they hoped to honor the couple, but they also hoped that their children would be inspired to succeed in life because of their names.

I am deeply touched that women in another country have chosen to name their children after our president elect and his wife. While I think that their intentions are admirable, I guess I wonder – will these children face ridicule because they are named after an American couple? I have never been to Kenya, and so I don’t know if these names will “stand out” from the names that other children have been given. Then again, if the naming trend continues, their names won’t “stand out” anyway.

I wonder what will happen to the babies Barack and Michelle as they grow. Will they spend their lives explaining their names to people? What happens if they meet people who do not support the political ideals of their namesakes? I think of the man I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post who named his daughter Sarah McCain. What happens to her now that the candidates that she was named after lost their bid for the White House?

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