59th – 60th ALL THAT I AM: Nomenclature and Identity
I’ve been on a voyage of discovery in the run-up to my 59th Birth Date Anniversary, or my 60th birth date when I count the day I was born as the first. I’ve been musing on identity, and researching my name to see what insights a nomenclature approach may offer – the process has been quite revealing.
Incidentally, it took a while for me to start including my ‘born day’ as my first birth date, it somehow looked like a year had been missed, and that this perpetual time-loss could somehow be carried throughout life.
Not to worry, I’ve fixed it, 59th – 60th it is!
WHAT DOES ‘NOMENCLATURE’ MEAN?
- the devising or choosing of names for things, especially in a science or other discipline.
- the body or system of names used in a particular specialist field.
- the term or terms applied to someone or something.
My full name is Cynthia Antoinette Roomes, my parents (RIP) were Jamaican, I usually tick the Black British Caribbean (aka BBC) box, I consider myself to be of the African Diaspora, conscious of my heritage, born and raised in Brixton, south London UK.
People who don’t know of me or haven’t seen a picture, have on occasion met me with varying degrees of pleasure, surprise, disdain, horror, or disappointment when I turn up at places by invitation, and people see a black woman. I think it’s got something to do with my name, I suspect they expect to see someone who is white.
By the way, I have experienced these kinds of responses from people of all colours and races and genders. This added to my desire to take a closer look at what my name actually means, where it comes from, and whether or not I live up to it.
Cynthia – Huntress; Artemis; Diana_
In Greek the root meaning of the name Cynthia is ‘Of Cynthus’ (Mount Cynthus or Kynthos on the island of Delos). Cynthia was one of the names of the mythological goddess of the moon and hunting.
Selene, the Greek personification of the moon, and the Roman Diana (meaning ‘heavenly’ or ‘divine’), and often identified with the Greek goddess Artemis (meaning ‘safe’ or ‘a butcher’), were also sometimes called “Cynthia”.
My mother once told me she named me ‘Cynthia’ after her teacher at school whom she admired and was very fond of in her early years.
Antoinette – Priceless; Inestimable; Highly Praiseworthy_
Original roots include a Roman clan name.
In Italian – it is the feminine form of ‘Antoine’, meaning priceless, inestimable, highly praised. It is one of many given names traceable to the root ‘Anthos’, meaning flower.
In English – the name means ‘highly praiseworthy’ and ‘the priceless one’.
In French – it is a given name, the feminine form of Antoine (from the Latin ‘Antonius’), meaning beyond praise or highly praiseworthy.
Roomes – Pilgrim, Traveller, Roman
An unusual and interesting surname of many spelling variations, has two possible origins. The first is from the Latin personal name “Romanus”, itself originally a pre-christian by name. The second is that “Roman” or “Room” can also be an ethnic name for someone from Rome or from Italy in general, or perhaps a nickname for a pilgrim who had travelled to Rome and back.
My great grandmother was a white German woman who found her way to rural Jamaica where she set up home, a small holding, and had children by a black man. My grand father ‘Maas Hugh’ was one of them. As the bits of the story I’ve been told goes, it was a happy village type community of black, white, and mixed race people, living up in the hills in the last throes of the plantation industry, pre-abolition. My white German ancestors have left a legacy – I have a cousin named Gunter, and an uncle named Adolphus (RIP).
I think these German roots are also revealed in the name ‘Hause’ or ‘Hauser’, and that this root eventually led to the surname I currently have, and the descriptor I often use i.e. ‘Roomes’ as in a ‘Hause’.
The Anglo-Saxon name Hause comes from the Old French personal name Haueis and the Old German personal name Hadewidis, which literally means battlewide. The surname Hause may also be derived from residence “at the haw”, which refers to a garth, yard, or enclosure. In this case, Hause belongs to the class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.
LINKS TO A PRINCESS_
I actually work at The Diana Award, a legacy charity to Diana – Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world. We celebrate and commemorate her qualities of kindness, compassion, and service.
I hunt for funding and other resources to help this 20 year old charity continue its mission to nurture develop and inspire positive change in the lives of young people. In a nomenclature exploration, The Diana Award is a very fitting place for me to work.
I recently wrote a guest blog where I celebrate the Windrush Generation and those caught up in the Windrush Scandal, and I included a poetic tribute to my mother. You can read it here:
LINKS TO A QUEEN_
Marie Antoinette was the Queen of France who became a symbol for the wanton extravagance of the 18th century monarchy, and was stripped of her riches and finery, imprisoned and beheaded by her own subjects during the French Revolution.
“Let them eat cake” is the traditional translation of the French phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, supposedly spoken by “a great princess” upon learning that the peasants had no bread. A saying that shows insensitivity to or incomprehension of the realities of life for the unfortunate. While the phrase is commonly attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette, there is no record of her having said it.
In my mind, it kind of depends on who made the cake (or brioche), and who needs to eat it, as a reward, or as a punishment in pursuit of social justice. We all need to shine a light on the fact that people – revolutionaries versus the establishment, are still making decisions about ‘who eats cake’ (or not) today.
ORIGINAL ARTWORK: ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ ©
Thankfully I have kept my head, all that is within it, and all that emanates from it, including what I really have written and said:
“I exist to challenge the inequality of the status quo, through my day job where I specialize in community & youth work and fundraising for good causes, and through my creativity where I reflect on life and the human condition from a black woman’s perspective”_
In the African nomenclature I devise for myself I am Ashanti Esi Owusu. My black ancestors are thought to be from Ghana in west Africa, and one other source points to a west Indian native blood line, and links to the Maroons.
Ashanti – the name of a tribe of people who originated in Ghana. The French called them the Ashanti people because they were undefeatable. The name means Undefeated, Divine and Peace, though some meanings in ‘twi’ state Ashanti has meaning associated with ‘warlike’.
Esi – simply, it means born on a Sunday! This is true.
Owusu – one of the most common Akan surnames or Akan given names in Ghana. However, it is a real name; thus, there are both male and female versions. (male: “OWUSU” and female: “OWUSUA”) which means “Strong Willed and Determined” in Akan language.
If I was to be known by any other name I would like it to be The Esoteric Mystic
Esoteric – that which is intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest, the “enlightened” or “initiated” or “specially educated”.
Mystic – a person who seeks to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute by contemplation and self-surrender, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.
The roots of the word ‘mystic’ are Greek, old French, and Latin – similar to my name Cynthia Antoinette Roomes
DIGITAL NOMENCLATURE EXTRACTION_
My name has 23 characters without spaces, I used all of them to create a new set of possibilities through a technological and science based ’I am’…
‘Atomic | Internet | Yahoo | Sent’
This extraction leaves me with a mind blowing set of applications e.g. nuclear power, an infinite source of information and data storage, digital systems and processes, delivered by electronic mail…
It is well worth taking a look at all of the letters and words in my:
ALL THAT I AM_
Even before I realized what my nomenclature approach reveals, or where it came from, with the value of hindsight and the retrospective, I live up to my names. It doesn’t matter if they are perceived as black or white, or even if I designated them for myself and made them up, they all have meanings, and I’m happy to live up to them.
None of my ambition to be true to myself has been broken by the barbaric horrors of the transatlantic slave trade; the north African slave trade before that; the Europeans who relentlessly partitioned Africa; the Greeks; the Romans; the Egyptians; nor the African nations who helped them decimate black peoples.
None of the oppressive failures before them and after them, not even those people with racist mentalities who live and breathe their own toxicity today. None of that could break me, none of that could separate me from my heritage and the truth that is my identity.
Is all well in love and war, or war and peace? No, not really. It has been very difficult for me to draw a thread through that kind of history. However, I am creative, I have found the thread and I have learnt how to weave it. I live up to my names, I triumph over adversity, I am all that I am, and more _
With thanks and much appreciation to the authors of many sources of information researched on the internet and which contributed to the development of this article.