Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
for Mumia: Tell Me About Your Name
Tell Me About
Well many years
ago I had a Swahili class, this was high school about my second
year in High School. And ah back then in the Black liberation and
Black power movement days it was very popular for people to study
Swahili it was one of the few available African languages that people
could learn. Well we had a teacher from Kenya, and ah he gave African
names to all of the students in High School and he gave me the name
Well it means Prince. And it is also a name of some freedom fighters
during the anti-colonial war against Britains by the Kenyans
during the times of Uhuru. So it has an historical context but also
a literal meaning, and for years, for maybe two or three years,
I actually mis remembered it and misspelled it I would write it
Mumsia, and it took me a while to pay attention and go back to my
sources and spell it the right way.
And how do
you want people to pronounce it?
Action on the first syllable as he pronounced it as he taught it
to me Moo-mia. Although most people dont.
what about Jamal?
Actually I took that; I named myself after my first born. My son
his name is Jamal. And so Abu-Jamal simply means father of Jamal.
So I am on of the rare guys who names himself after his first son
is Wesley Cook mean to you?
Well it has a sweet meaning to me actually because when I think
of it I think of my mother calling me by that name. I did not care
for it when I was a teenager back during the Black revolution, and
the Black power movement, but you know when you think
of your mother you think of what she called you and it has a real
sweetness to it, and ah that is what my father called me before
he passed, so I dont have a hang up about it. I lot of people
think they do but I just laugh when people say that because it reminds
me of my mother. And what could be sweeter than that.
your fathers and your mothers names?
My mothers name was Edith and my fathers name was William.
And my mother ah
actually I just found out that my mothers middle name wasnt
what she had told us all of our lives. She told us it was Louise,
actually located her birth certificate a few months ago and it was
Lourainnia, and I think her country self was embarrassed at telling
us what her birth name was, but it was pretty comical to us in the
it mean to be a twin?
Ah I have never really felt like it, so I dont know what it
means. I mean my twin is so different from me, that ah he simply
was another brother. I probably felt more like a twin with my youngest
brother, my baby brother, [you have fifteen seconds left to talk]
so ah so I have never had the experience, I mean when I was a child
of course all twins are dressed alike and all that, but we had very
different ways of looking at the world and ways of interacting with
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
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Reprinted by permission of the author.