Why your name matters “Don’t ask me how I got my name” – A Song by Toots and the Maytals which is more than just a song;

Why your name matters “Don’t ask me how I got my name” – A Song by Toots and the Maytals which is more than just a song;

A think piece by Winston Sutherland
20 June, 2020

I remember this song, by Toots and the Maytals, from when I was a bway (boy) growing up in the 1960’s in St. E (pronounced senti) and means St Elizabeth, a parish on Jamaica’s south coast. ‘Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean’. Why oh why do they still teach that and why oh why do some Government of Jamaica ads and documents still carry that sentence? It is possibly the most irrelevant factoid ever! Ok, rant over😂. So, the first two verses of the song:

Don’t ask me how I got my name.
Don’t ask me how I got my name.
I told you once, I told you twice,
This time let’s make it quite alright.
Don’t ask me how I got my name.

I told you how I got my name.
I got this name way back in Spain
She called me ‘Mr. Santinavonoribbinanasibbinanaribbinanasib’
Don’t ask me how I got my name

So that’s Toots Hibbert’s version of how he got his name and you will notice that he can pronounce it too. ‘Mr. Santinavonoribbinanasibbinanaribbinanasib’ listen to the song in the link above. That’s a fantastic name. I think.

People who know me as Winston Sutherland are a bit bemused with my online name choices and speculate about my names. Is it because we have a mindset which says your name is what is on your birth certi? (short form of certificate in Jamaica but pronounced cerfitiket lol) Well that is your legal name and I use my legal name where I need to, but I am not restricted to my legal name. I am more than that for many reasons. In fact, my legal name only ties me to slavery. My Surname comes from a Scottish slave owner of my great, great grandfather, in St Elizabeth, Jamaica. My given name is English.

The English tradition is that you take your father’s surname but that limits your understanding of who you really are and that is why so many people undertake family searches on the numerous genealogy sites which have sprung up. Genealogy is not a new subject, doh!, St Mathew’s gospel sets out the Genealogy of Jesus Christ. ‘This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ’ etc. etc. (Jamaicans repeat words. Why? I don’t know but I know when to use it and I just did, i.e. etc. etc.). The gospel of St Luke does the same thing but both accounts are different

and that’s the point. One version is on his father’s side (no comment) and the other is from his mother’s side of the family. So, this is not new. Fidel Castro carries the name RUZ after Castro.

So, his name was Fidel Castro Ruz. Why? Ruz is his mother’s maiden name (although she wasn’t a maiden when she had him). That’s the Spanish naming convention. So, little me, and I am little, 5’ 8’ and 145 lbs for as long as I can remember, I have used several profile names on FB because I can. My registered name on FB is Winston Sutherland but my profile name has rotated through Winston Sutherland, Quashee Sutherland and Blake Sutherland and I have others which I will eventually come to, which is the point of this article. My options:

  1. Quashee = West African boy, born on a Sunday and I was born on a Sunday. It’s a corruption of Quasi or Kwasi. That is how my mother referred to me, affectionately. She taught me a lot about Africa because I never heard the word Africa in any lesson at school. Egypt, yes. Gold Coast, yes. Ethiopia yes, but Africa, No.
  2. Sutherland = My Father’s surname which he got from his father, Isaac Sutherland which he in turn got from his father, William Sutherland which takes us to 1845 shortly after the abolition of slavery in Jamaica.
  3. Blake = the surname of my paternal grandmother and cousin of former south St Elizabeth MP Vivian Blake. But I have other names:
  4. ROWE = the surname of my maternal grandmother which takes us back to her mother Mimi, born a slave in 1833. I am cousin of Jamaica’s former Chief Justice Ira Rowe.
  5. SALMON = the name of my maternal grand-father Joseph and his father which takes us back to 1850, which means his father, like my great grand-mother, was born a slave about 1830. I am cousin to the celebrated Jamaican ENT specialist Dr Barbara Salmon – Grandison.

  6. STEWART= the name of my maternal grandmother (my mother’s mother) from Big Wood (Lennox’s) in Westmoreland
  7. POWELL= the name of my maternal great grandmother (cousin of General Colin Powell)

I have just explained who I am using one element of the diagram which I used in another article a few weeks ago. I have circled the bit I used in the diagram above, self – concept or who am I? And that’s a small insight into who I am. Quashee Winston Anthony Blake Rowe Salmon Stewart Powell Sutherland the first or QuasheeWinstonAnthonyBlakeRoweSalmonStewartPowellSutherlandthefirst

Your name is core to your self-concept and now you know a bit more about me. What have you learned about you?

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