Whats in a name!

Muhaari~ Pronounced ‘MowHaaary’.

My name has multiple meanings depending on which part of Kikuyu land you come from, fact is, My name has no single meaning and it’s a very unique name, chance is, anyone named Muhaari is My immediate relative as I am only a second generation Muhaari. I hear from my elders that my grandfather was a very special person, a non conformer to the status quo, a free thinker and a trend setter with so many firsts. His given name was “Nyaga”- Ostrich/whiteness at the top of Mount Kenya, some people say it means snow, but the Kikuyu people had no concept of snow, but rather the whiteness atop Mount Kenya. Thats why God is referred to as “Mwene Nyaga” The owner of the whiteness, the ostrich was named “Nyaga” because of its white patch. Anyway, I digress.

The name is also used to refer to a gatherer/searcher/hustler/one who searches/scavenger (Kuhaaara) used in a sentence as “tathii uhaare gathaara na hau Ngurumo” (Can you go scavenge/search/look for some Napier grass….) there are different enunciations and pronunciations again depending on which part of Kikuyu land you come from. But in communication, when someone tells you “Thiie ukahaare” go scavenge or search for, or try to get or hustle for, they are cognizant of the fact that whatever they are asking you to find may be virtually non existent and will require some effort to find. Like in the example I used above of Napier grass, they are asking you to just go get some Napier grass, they don’t know how you will do it, but they have faith in your ability to make it happen.

The name is also used to refer to a quarrelsome person like in “wee wii muhaari muno” like someone quarrelsome or who likes to provoke others, it could also be used to mean someone who is quite argumentative, or critical, or a sceptic. “Kuhaarana” would be used to refer to some kind of antagonism, not violent but rather not seeing eye to eye.

Interesting, the name is also used to refer  to “muharii” one who prepares/ scratches a roasted goats head for preparation of soup (Kuharaa). Now if you have had a bowl of Kikuyu goat soup, you will know/or not, that the process of preparation is a ritual and very few can make a good bowl of Kikuyu broth. It’s a long process that takes hours. The goat head, which is the main ingredient is first roasted, then scratched (Ok I don’t have an English word for how this is done so ill use scratch, bite me!) Anyway,  it is then washed nicely, then (this is where it gets dramatic) crashed by hitting the skull once with an axe or a machete, then boiled for hours. Fact is, the one who prepares it isn’t all that important, not respected or revered, but they make a damn nice bowl of soup. In future perhaps, ill have the courage to write about the lie going around that the Kikuyu nation doesn’t have any culinary skills, yes! we boil everything but there are different types of boiling……(Wink!) so STFU! we are boiling experts.

Name also means a straight line (muhariii) or just a line, or a Que. Or a row as in “muhari wa mbembe” Corn row. I am also told that it could mean someone perennially broke or someone with diarrhea. I am more biased about the different meanings, there are many more meanings but this are the ones I choose to see, I am not a Kikuyu expert, but the search for the meaning(s) for my name is spiritual and I am certain that I will get more meanings as we go along and as I search more.

I realize that its quite a big name, a challenge to carry, I aspire to be like the great Muhaari, my grandfather, He lived an exciting out of the box life, left a legacy, and every time one of the Muhaari’s does something great, lives an exciting life, tests the limits of conformity, they are each in their own way trying to live up and express the nature of a great person. The first of his name.

We are restless, We don’t conform, We are skeptics, We are free thinkers, We will engage in long ritualistic processes that have neither meaning nor dignity so that the rest can enjoy a good bowl of soup, we don’t/no we won’t/can’t fit in your typical box, We belong to God, and like an Ostrich, a “Nyaga” we will fiercely protect what is ours even if it means our death, We don’t strive to please, rather fulfill a purpose because we are MUHAARI! #NowYouKnow!