I don’t know what to write about this morning, but I have 30 minutes of writing before me so I need to come up with something :). I guess I should write about Benji!
Benji (Benjamin Baraka) lives up to his name. When we found out that I was pregnant, I was pretty sure we would have a girl. I already had a beautiful girl’s name all picked out and we began praying for our baby by name. I even started knitting some little booties (pink of course) and sweaters. With our doctor, we had an ultrasound every visit, which was just wonderful. For some reason we delayed going for the checkup where we would find out the gender so I was past 20 weeks be the time the doctor informed us, “it’s a baby boy…you can see here…” I remember leaving the hospital thinking, “ok, we need a new name!” Even though I was planning for a girl, finding out we were expecting a boy wasn’t really a big deal…just we didn’t have a name. We thought about it and talked about it, but didn’t come up with anything. The one name we both liked, one of our friends had recently named their son and when we did some research we didn’t really like the meaning. We agreed that we preferred a Bible name and wanted something with a strong meaning. But still no name.
Finally, at church a few weeks later, a number of people asked what his name was going to be and we kept trying to avoid the question. When we got home from church, we agreed it was time to come up with a name for this baby. We sat in our plastic chairs, at our little table (we were a bit short on furniture at the time) and started discussing names. In addition to our qualifications, I also wanted a name with nice nicknames – Billy has about 10 nicknames and I have none :). We discussed a variety of names. We were really being drawn to Old Testament names. We considered Caleb and Levi and a variety of other names. Finally one of us brought up Reuben, and liked the fact that it could be shortened to Ben. Then we looked up the meaning and didn’t quite feel it (I can’t currently remember the meaning). Then almost at the same time we said, what about Benjamin, that can also be shortened to Ben. So we looked up the meaning. In Hebrew, Benjamin means the son of my right hand. Then we dug a little further. The tribe of Benjamin was the warrior tribe of Israel, they were known to be taller, stronger and many times more handsome than the rest of the Israelite men. Almost all the things we could discover about the tribe of Benjamin were positive. So we agreed, this would be the perfect name for our little boy.
Then we had to pick a middle name. Traditionally in the Kikuyu tribe (the tribe Billy is from) the first-born son is named for the paternal grandfather (the second born then being named for the maternal grandfather) while first-born daughters are named for the paternal grandmother and so on. There is also a tradition that while Billy uses his father’s Kikuyu name as his surname, Benji and myself take Billy’s Kikuyu name as our surname…entirely dropping his father’s name. Billy decided that it was important for us to start our own family line, leaving behind old traditions and starting our own. He chose not to give Benji his father’s name and actually chose to not give him a Kikuyu name at all. Instead we decided we would choose a Swahili word with a positive meaning for a middle name. We had decided on this a while before we sat down to pick a name, but didn’t have a specific word in mind. The idea behind it was that should Benji chose to follow tradition and drop Billy’s name, he would still have a name that could be used for his wife and children’s surname. After we picked Benjamin it didn’t take us long at all to come up with Baraka. Baraka is the Swahili word for Blessing. It has become a popular first name for Kenyan families who are moving to giving their children meaningful names. We loved how the names sounded together and the power of their meanings.
And so we had it, Benjamin Baraka. Oh, in addition to these names, Benji’s last name (Billy’s Kikuyu name) means the hot or fiery one :). Benji lives up to all his names. He is most certainly the son of his father’s right hand. He has been a daddy’s boy from the very first day. They bonded while I was recovering in ICU and have been very, very close ever since. On Wednesday, Billy and I went out to do somethings and left Benji with our househelp. When we came home, Billy went to the shop in our estate while I came home to release the househelp. Billy was less than 5 minutes behind me, but before he got home Benji was in tears…looking out the door asking for DADDY, DADDY. When Billy came, Benji wouldn’t let him put him down for almost 5 minutes. Benji is also very helpful and wants to be sure he does everything we are doing. As for the warrior in him…it has been visable from the beginning. I remember a friend of ours watching me struggle to nurse him and commenting, “he is very assertive, isn’t he.” He was 2 months old! Benji knows what he wants and he will do what he can to achieve it. He prefers to do things himself even though he often ends up frustrated when he can’t get the blocks together or apart or something else doesn’t work the way he wants. Benji is also a blessing. Apart from a time or two, he loves visitors and is very warm and friendly. He makes people smile. And of course he is a huge blessing to our lives. And lastly he is also fiery…his little temper has been showing recently, in the form of screams of frustration when we tell him no to something. I hope and pray that we will be able to mould his fire and assertion into determination and discipline.
The picture is from an outing to the Nairobi SafariWalk…his determination was in full force (he wanted to keep running up and down the ramp :).