A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[LINK] “South Sudan’s tricky name game”

What will independent South Sudan be called? Percy Zvomuya takes a look at the question in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian.

Azania — these were some of the tantalising names that were being touted for the new state comprising the southern provinces of Sudan. Alas, the grey-suited politicians made a beeline for the obvious: South Sudan.

Juwama was perhaps the least attractive of the options: a portmanteau term for Juba, Wau and Malakal, the three main cities of the south. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Tanzania, which amalgamates the names of mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar.

Explaining why they were sticking with the tried and tested, Benjamin Marial, South Sudan’s information minister, said, “that is the majority preference — it’s the easiest for the time being; there are already many things with that name”, referring to government agencies. “Should the people of South Sudan in the future want a new name, they’ll have that chance.”

Poor Azania, Black Consciousness disciples are probably lamenting — it never quite makes it. Its origins are obscure, but some scholars think it was used by Persians, perhaps Arabs, to refer to Africa’s darker-skinned peoples.

An internet search reveals that a number of African states have names alluding to the complexions of their inhabitants. Sudan itself is derived from the Arab phrase bilad as-sudan, “land of the blacks”.

Race, topography, indigenous languages–all have been used to produce the names of countries.

Go, read.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , , ,

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