For a few years now, "There is only ONE Masuka!" has been my personal slogan. A number of people have asked me what this means. So, I thought I would share that this is for three main reasons.
1. For most people that I personally know, I am the ONLY Masuka that they know. A few years ago, when I last did a Google search for my first name, most of the references to Masuka came from Japan and other Asian countries. In Africa, there is a well-known hotel in Tanzania by the same name. In Southern Africa, the late singer Dorothy Masuka is the most recognisable example. Masuka is a common last name in Zimbabwe and coincidentally, my own last name is also pretty common there.
And then, Google has me -- Masuka M.
Contrary to popular belief, my name has no relation to the word common in eastern province languages which means to be set free. Hence, our national anthem in Chichewa translates the line 'Freely we stand' as 'bomasuka'. Officially, my family identifies our tribe as Luvale, which is after my Father's family. My mother is Luchazi, a much smaller, but related sister tribe. However, both of my names are actually Chokwe. My paternal grandmother, after whom I am named, was Chokwe too.
In Chokwe, Masuka has two meanings. The first is given primarily to girls. There is a proverb associated with the name, but loosely, the name means one who comforts children.The secondary meaning, primarily applied to boys is one who is skilled at preparing a calabash for use.
I do not personally know any other Masukas. The ones that I do know of are Zimbabwean (and Masuka is their last name). There are definitely more, but I have personally been told of three other Masukas known to my general circle of friends, family, colleagues etc. Two are male and one is female, but we are not personally acquainted.
2. St Augustine is quoted has having said, "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us". As a result, I try to look at myself the way God does. I really am fearfully and wonderfully made and for that reason, there is only one of me.
3. Uniqueness is Overrated and I think that those people who are overly concerned and preoccupied with proving how different they are from everyone else are misguided and insecure because they are actually NOT that different from a couple of hundred other people in the world. More, if you count those that have passed away or are yet to be born.
There are now 7 billion people on this earth, with more being born every day. That means that there are many many many people who look like me, who act like me, who talk like me, who walk like me and who even think like me. But that doesn't make me feel any less like Masuka. I do not value myself any less and that does not in any way diminish who I am or my place or purpose in this world.
I LOVE being me. There is only ONE Masuka!
Since writing this in 2011, in 2012 I met one of the Masukas. She works in banking. A friend delighted in sending a message that I should ask for Masuka. I hurriedly corrected her mistake and she smugly insisted it wasn't. Later I found out why.
The same year I travelled to Kaoma in a village deep in a Chokwe area and met four Masukas of varying ages from Grandmother to great grand daughter.
The same year I got an email from a man originally from Congo DRC, living in Kenya who is also named Masuka and happens to have Chokwe roots too. He had always wondered what his name meant until he read this post.
In 2014, I encountered the male Masuka by email and met another Masuka who was the one I am most often confused with, because we both worked in the health and HIV sector at one time.
And so ends my Masuka adventures so far. There is only ONE Masuka!