Slave name

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A slave name is the personal name given by others to an enslaved person, or a name inherited from enslaved ancestors. The modern use of the term applies mostly to African Americans and West Indians who are descended from enslaved Africans who retain their name given to their ancestors by the enslavers.

Changing from a slave name to a name embodying an African identity became common after emancipation in the 1960s by those in the African diaspora in the Americas seeking a reconnection to their African cultural roots.[citation needed]

Ancient Rome[edit]

In Rome slaves were given a single name by their owner. A slave who was freed might keep his or her slave name and adopt the former owner's name as a praenomen and nomen. As an example, one historian says that "a man named Publius Larcius freed a male slave named Nicia, who was then called Publius Larcius Nicia."[1]

Historian Harold Whetstone Johnston writes of instances in which a slave's former owner chose to ignore custom and simply chose a name for the freedman.[2]

African Americans[edit]

A number of African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans have changed their names out of the belief that the names they were given at birth were slave names. An individual's name change often coincides with a religious conversion (Muhammad Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay, Malcolm X from Malcolm Little, and Louis Farrakhan changed his from Louis Eugene Walcott, for example)[3][4] or involvement with the black nationalist movement (e.g., Amiri Baraka and Assata Shakur).[5]

Some organizations encourage African-Americans to abandon their slave names. The Nation of Islam is perhaps the best-known of them. In his book, Message to the Blackman in America, Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad writes often of slave names. Some of his comments include:

  • "You must remember that slave-names will keep you a slave in the eyes of the civilized world today. You have seen, and recently, that Africa and Asia will not honor you or give you any respect as long as you are called by the white man's name."[6]
  • "You are still called by your slave-masters' names. By rights, by international rights, you belong to the white man of America. He knows that. You have never gotten out of the shackles of slavery. You are still in them."[7]

The black nationalist US Organization also advocates for African-Americans to change their slave names.[8]


Names of Transatlantic Slaves[edit]

lets look at SlaveVoyages.org:

A website which indexes the slaves that have been traded, now take a look at some of the names,

here is a list of some names extracted from this site.

ID Name Age Height (in) Sex/Age Origin Voyage ID Ship Name Arrival Embarkation Disembarkation African Origins
489 Nyahmoley 27 65.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown View
504 Enyah 21 62.0 Man Calabar 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown View
632 Inyah 38 67.0 Man Calabar 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown View
653 Yaho 26 69.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown View
813 Ahkeyah 16 52.0 Woman Eboo, Hebo 2323 Anna Maria 1821 Bonny Freetown View
896 Hanyah 23 68.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2328 Donna Eugenia 1821 Bonny Freetown View
1004 Henyah 26 63.0 Man Eboo, Hebo 2910 Constante 1821 Freetown View
1063 Beneyah 19 55.0 Woman Calabar 2910 Constante 1821 Freetown View
1419 Honyah 10 56.0 Girl Eboo, Hebo 2325 NS de Caridad 1821 Bonny Freetown View
1429 Enyah 10 43.0 Girl Eboo, Hebo 2325 NS de Caridad 1821 Bonny Freetown View
1781 Tayaho 28 62.0 Woman Tola 2898 Conde de Villa Flor 1822 Bissau Freetown View
2434 Cooyah 24 62.0 Male 2917 Estrella 1822 Badagry/Apa Freetown View
5020 Hygayah 14 61.0 Girl 2946 Avizo 1824 Badagry/Apa Freetown View
5106 Bunyah 22 68.0 Man 2947 Bella Eliza 1824 Lagos, Onim Freetown View
5378 Kardayah 11 56.0 Girl 2947 Bella Eliza 1824 Lagos, Onim Freetown View
5566 Yaryah 25 62.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown View
5570 Barbanyah 26 64.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown View
5577 Yahfee 26 63.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown View
5585 Dahyah 29 64.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown View
5608 Bandayah 27 63.0 Man 2333 Espanola 1825 Gallinhas Freetown View

These names contain the first letters of the name of the Israelite God. See: Theophoric name

Now on the topic, what happened to The Theophoric Names of the slaves?

It was a common practise to change the names of the slaves by the Enslavers and Slave traders.

Other references[edit]

White singer Sinéad O'Connor stated in 2017 that she had changed her legal name to Magda Davitt, saying in an interview that she wished to be "free of the patriarchal slave names.”[9] On her conversion to Islam in 2018, she adopted the Muslim name Shuhada' Sadaqat.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roman Nomenclature at vroma.org
  2. ^ Johnson, Harold Whetstone; Johnston, Mary; Names of Freedmen; 1903, 1932; forumromanum.org
  3. ^ "Louis Farrakhan Biography". Database. Biography.com. Retrieved 2011-10-20.
  4. ^ "Muhammad Ali Biography". Database. Biography.com. Retrieved 2011-10-20.
  5. ^ Deburg, William L. Van, "Modern Black Nationalism: From Marcus Garvey to Louis Farrakhan", NYU Press (1997), p. 269, ISBN 0-8147-8789-4
  6. ^ Muhammad, Elijah; Message to the Blackman; Chapter 24; seventhfam.com
  7. ^ Muhammad, Elijah; Message to the Blackman; Chapter 34; seventhfam.com
  8. ^ "NGUZO SABA (The Seven Principles)" From : US Organization website
  9. ^ "Sinead O'Connor's mother 'ran a torture chamber'". The Independent. 2017-09-12. Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  10. ^ "Sinead O'Connor (Shuhada Sadaqat): 'I'm rebuilding life' | The Point Of Everything". Retrieved 2019-10-25.

External links[edit]