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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Shaming of Monifa the Gorilla

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 11:59 AM

This gorilla's mother not only raised him, but continues to dress him.
As you may have read in the morning's San Francisco Chronicle, the baby gorilla whose mother gave it a big "fuck you" is doing quite well, and needs a name. It can't be just any name though. It has to be of African origin, which means we only have about 2,000 languages to choose from. To narrow it down further, we could make it a point of following the example set by city Animal Care and Control -- which recented dubbed its stolen and recovered baby Chihuaha "Swipe" -- by naming the gorilla-ling to reflect something about his experiences in the world thus far.  

Google seemed like the easiest place to start looking for an appropriate name. I googled several combinations of words including "abandonment" and "African word" and "unwanted" and "baby." Nothing significant came up except for this haiku. When I tried "African" and "orphan," I discovered a song called "Baayo" about a child with a dead mother. Although that isn't the case here, since the gorilla's mother, Monifa, is only emotionally dead and not physically dead, I still think Baayo, which apparently means orphan, sounds pretty good.

Next up, the second best source for information: Wikipedia. Consulting Wikipedia's page of South African slang, I found words for "shit" and "mother" which add up to Kak Mallie. I think that would hold the mother responsible in a way that Baayo does not, and it also has a nice ring to it.

If we wanted to dabble in a bit of symbolism, we could relate the name back to the idea of a white elephant, which means something unwanted. Using Google and Wikipedia to find African words for white elephant, I came up with this: Umlungu Loxdonta. That's a little cumbersome. But, then again, motherhood would have been cumbersome, too. Isn't that right, Monifa?

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Ashley Harrell


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