My name is Pontsho

For those who don't know, the translation of my name is vision. I say translation and not meaning because our names don't mean something, they are sentences that tell a story. They carry history. Pontsho, in its most practical form, means demonstration. My name is Pontsho because I am a demonstration, a vision, of God’s work.


A few weeks ago when I was in the US I called my parents for our daily catch up sessions. I mostly spoke to my mother who was always intrigued about the time difference and would without fail say “Ke 11 phakela ka fo rona, ke nako mang koo? (It is 11 in the morning here, what time is it there?” To which I would reply “Ke 5 phakela Ma, ke fetsa go tsoga. (It’s 5 in the morning Ma, I just woke up).” This, without fail, will become a conversation about how amazing God is that he made the world this way.  After our usual morning banter on this particular day, my mother's birthday, I spoke to my father. His birthday was the day before but because of our schedules and, of course, the time zone difference I didn't get a chance to talk to him on that day. I wished my mother a happy birthday and sang for her then repeated the same exercise for my father. Then he goes into to this trance of repeating my name. “Oh Pontsho, Pontsho, Pontsho. Pontsho. Pontsho. Pontsho. Pontsho.” He continues for about a minute.  It was strange hearing him say my name and what was even stranger was him repeating it like that.  Mind you, all my life my father has never called me by my name. He calls many things, but never Pontsho.  Mma (Mother) and Mma Moloko (Moloko’s mother) are his two favourite and most used. I had another name, which I removed in 2006 when I got my new ID book. That name was his maternal grandmother’s name. Moloko was his aunt, his grandparent’s first child. Moloko is also the woman who raised me, who I called Mama for the first few years of my life.  He eventually stops repeating my name. "You truly live up to your name.” I giggle because my father enunciates when he speaks English. He usually switches to the Viola Davis-esque way of speaking when he has had a few drinks, but it was very clear that he was completely sober. “Ngwanaka o Pontsho ya nnete, Modimo O ne a ikgantsa ka wena! (My child you are truly a vision, God was boasting when he made you!)” He continues. “Ka ntlha ya gago BoMoloko ba tshela mawatla. Modimo o re neile wena gore o re bontshe ditshaba.  (It is because of you that our lineage travels the world. God gifted us with you so that you can show us different nations).” And in that moment, the six hours between me and my father melted. Nothing else was said. We stayed on the line and wept together.

A Vision.