Wednesday, 16 July 2008

ABC Wednesday: Zambia

(Phivos Nicolaides featured this post on his blog.)

It's ABC Wednesday again, and the second round of the alphabet has come to a close with Z today, which stands for Zambia.

Zambia (on the left) was the name of my mother. She's standing here with a friend at Agious Apostolous beach, where her grandchildren (unfortunately, she didn't get to meet them) now go for swimming lessons. The buildings in the background were once used as a military training centre, but are now disused, left in a state of ruin. My mother left Crete when she was 30 years of age. As an olive picker from a poor family, the island offered no prospects for her in the 1960s, so she emigrated to New Zealand, where she lived the next 30 years of her life. It was a very prosperous life, albeit a very short one.

Zambia is an unusual name. It's common in the villages around where she was born (Kambous, Keramia, Hania, Crete), and in a few other pockets of the island, but is hardly known in other parts of Greece. There is another similar woman's name in Rhodes (Tzambika, where churches are dedicated to St Tzambika), but I'm not sure if it is of the same origin. An archaeologist friend of mine told me that the name has Venetian origins; this means that my mother's ancestors have been living in this town since before it was occupied by the Ottoman army, ie before 1500. My mother's history is an integral part of the history of the town she was born in.

It's the custom to name children after their grandparents, but I clearly remember my mother telling me that she didn't like her own name (because it was so reminiscent of Greek peasantry), so I gave my daughter her other grandmother's name (Christine). I didn't want my children getting teased over their names, like Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii does, or maybe Superman in New Zealand does whenever he walks into the room: "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Superman!" I suppose it's better than the original name his parents had planned for him: imagine if Superman did eventually get called 4Real: "Are you for real?" everyone would be asking him. Some parents have no foresight; they are oblivious to the fact that they have
screwed up their child's life before the child itself can have a chance to do it for himself.

The photograph of my mother was taken in the early 1960s.

Η Ζaμπiα (αριστερά) ήταν το όνομα της μητέρας μου. Εδώ βρίσκεται μαζί με μια φίλη της στην παραλία στους Αγίους Αποστόλους, όπου τα εγγόνια της (δυστυχώς, δεν τα γνώρισε), τώρα πάνε για μαθήματα κολύμβησης. Τα κτίρια στο παρασκήνιο κάποτε χρησιμοποιήθηκαν ως στρατιωτικό κέντρο εκπαίδευσης, αλλά σήμερα είναι εγκαταλελειμμένα. Η μητέρα μου άφησε την Κρήτη όταν ήταν 30 ετών. Ελαιομαζώχτρα από φτωχή οικογένεια, το νησί δεν πρόσφέρε προοπτικές στη δεκαετία του 1960, οπότε μετανάστεψε στη Νέα Ζηλανδία, όπου έζησε τα επόμενα 30 χρόνια της ζωής της. Ήταν μια πολύ ευημερούσα ζωή, έστω και αν ήταν πολύ σύντομη.

Το όνομα Ζaμπiα είναι ένα ασυνήθιστο όνομα. Είναι κοινό σε χωριά γύρω από όπου γεννήθηκε (Κάμποι, Κεραμιά, Χανιά, Κρήτη), και σε μερικές άλλες τσέπες του νησιού, αλλά είναι ελάχιστα γνωστή σε άλλα μέρη της Ελλάδας. Υπάρχει άλλο παρόμοιο όνομα της Παναγίας στη Ρόδο (Τζαμπίκα), όπου εκκλησίες είναι αφιερωμένες στον Αγια, αλλά δεν είμαι σίγουρη αν είναι της ίδιας καταγωγής. Μια αρχαιολόγος φίλοι μου μού είπε ότι το όνομα έχει βενετσιάνικη προελεύση. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι οι πρόγονοι της μητέρας μου ζούσαν σε αυτή την πόλη για πολλά χρόνια, δεδομένου ότι μετά τους Βενετσιάνους τα Χανιά είχαν καταληφθεί από τον οθωμανικό στρατό. Της μητέρας μου η ιστορία είναι αναπόσπαστο μέρος της ιστορίας της πόλης που γεννήθηκε.

Είναι το έθιμο να κατονομαστούν τα παιδιά με τα όνομα των παππούδων, αλλά θυμάμαι τη μάνα μου να μου λέει ότι δεν ήθελε το δικό της όνομα (διότι της θύμιζε φτώχεια και χωριά), ώστε να δώσω στην κόρη μου το όνομα της άλλης γιαγιάς (Χριστίνη) . Δεν ήθελα τα παιδιά μου να τα κοροιδεύουν για τα ονόματά τους, όπως υποπτεύομαι για τον Superman στη Νέα Ζηλανδία, όταν μπαίνει μέσα σε μια αίθουσα: "Πρόκειται για πουλί; Είναι ένα αεροπλάνο; Οχι, είναι ο Σούπερμαν!" Υποθέτω πως είναι καλύτερο από το αρχικό όνομά που είχαν προγραμματίσει η γονείς του γι 'αυτόν: φανταστείτε αν η Ταλούλα η ο Superman λεγόταν 4Real: "Είστε πραγματικός;" όλοι θα τον ρωτούσαν. Ορισμένοι γονείς δεν έχουν καμία πρόβλεψη! Αγνοούν το γεγονός ότι έχουν καταστρέψει την ζωή του παιδιού τους πριν μπορέσει το ίδιο παιδί να βρει την ευκαιρία να το κάνει για τον εαυτό του.

Η φωτογραφία της μητέρας μου είχε ληφθεί στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του 1960.


  1. A great insight into your life.

    Good Z post.

    Bodge's Bulletin

  2. Nice post. I love pictures like that, and the history is charming.

  3. Love the post, the photo is priceless! I whole heartedly agree with your thoughts on naming children!!

  4. Your mother is SO pretty! It must have been a beautiful place to grow up, but I can understand her feelings. Lovely post.

  5. Wonderful post. I agree with Leslie your mother is beautiful.

  6. This was very interesring and personal post. Your closing line I couldn't agree with more. Most pognant post so far.

  7. Too right, we're struggling to agree upon the name of child number two. We've already used the one boy's name that we could agree upon!

  8. Very nice to learn so much about you. Yes, choosing names for babies is not as easy as it first appears.

  9. Those old photos always embody a sense of history.
    But it's really good to learn you name babies after their grandparents..

  10. I like old photos like this. The text also is wonderful.

  11. wonderful tribute post for ur mother

    Mine in here At My Imaginary. Thanks

  12. a very fascinating and interesting post thank you

  13. It is interesting to see how names move in and out of fashion! At one point apparantly I was going to be called Penelope! I wonder if things would have turned out any different> I'll stick with Denise, popular name from the 1950's.


  14. I named my daughter Candace Barbara, and already had that on the birth certificate before someone pointed out that she would be called Candy Bar. She was called Candy but never Candy Bar except by her husband who uses it affectionately, not derisively.

    I think Zambia is a lovely name, whether attached to a person or a place.

    I loved the old snapshot! Nice post!

  15. Very interesting and very sweet remembrance of your mother. When I saw Zambia, at first I thought of the country, and that the poto did not connect.

  16. Thanks for sharing your really interesting family history.