SYFIA (Democratic Republic of Congo)


MBANDAKA – For centuries, Maria, Luke and Matthew sufficed for those among the faithful eager to give their newborns a biblical name. For something a bit more original, others could always turn to Jacob, Jeremiah or Jonah -- not to mention Amaziah, Basemath and Zebedee.

But now in the Congolese city of Mbandaka, reports Syfia, parents have begun choosing baby names from the Bible in a whole new way. Listen closely in the streets of Mbandaka and you'll hear “Glotogo,” “Jesovic,” “Thevogo,” or “Wonplago” called out.

You’re scratching your head, wondering if you missed a crucial catechism class. But no, these are not characters from the Bible, but rather acronyms and abbreviations made from religious expressions. 

No one knows whether this novelty was inspired by ancient scriptures or modern texting...and we don't know whether to LOL or cry inside. But here's a partial list of popular new Christian names in Congo:

Glotogo: Glory to God

Jesovic: Jesus our victory

Thevogo: The voice of God

Wonplago: Wonderful plan of God

Thabetogo: Thanks be to God

“People believe that a name has an influence on the child,” explains Alexandre Mbandi, a professor of philosophy who has written about the importance of first names in African tradition. They are also worried that using an ancestor’s name (the Congolese traditional way) or the name of someone who has done something bad could somehow influence their child’s character. Hence inventing a name gives the child a clean slate, and if the name is Bible-inspired, this can only bring him or her good luck.

It has become a sort of competition between parents to find the most imaginative and creative Bible-inspired acronym to name their newborns, notes Syfia. The only real limit is bureaucratic: people have been having problems registering their children’s names with the administration, which is not so accepting of staying on top of this new trend.