Friday, June 1, 2012


My American name is LaRocha ("la-rock-a"), but my Senegalese name is Adama. I have a number of tokorabe (people with my same name) around Salémata. I've gotten used to it, more or less, but for several months it was profoundly weird. 

It took me awhile to really identify as "Adama," and once I actually started to feel like it was my name I couldn't really get my head around how a bunch of other people also had my name. That has never happened to me before. Ever. In my entire life. It's funny, I spent a significant part of my childhood wishing that I had a name that other people had (specifically so that I could have a personalized toothbrush and name stickers) and then when I finally did it was oddly disconcerting. 

Adama and Friends
I've gotten used to it, though, and have come to appreciate some of the perks of having a normal, phonetic, immediately understood name. Greetings and mundane daily interactions are smoother and less complicated, and when people read my name off a list they don't hesitate and look around, blinking and uncomfortable, for a few seconds before attempting to say it aloud. They laugh, sometimes, amused that such an obvious foreigner would go by such a Senegalese name, but it's always friendly and often leads to questions about my family same (Souaré, "soo-are-ay") and where I live and if my family is in peace. 

Also, sometimes people are extra nice to their tokora, which is arbitrary but pleasant, and I'm not one to argue if the peanut butter lady or the bean sandwich lady wants to give me an extra spoonful just because I'm her tokora.

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