Kikuyumoja Inc.

Someo­ne asked me about this rather stran­ge name “Kikuyu­mo­ja” today, and befo­re I keep on exp­lai­ning it over and over again, let me just blog this once and give out a few jui­cy details. I know, the first thing some of you out the­re do whenever you’­re on a new blog is to click on the “about” link — which some­ti­mes does­n’t reve­al as much as you were prol­ly expec­ting. After all, blogs with a domain name (URL) are not as anony­mous as all the­se blogger/wp/twoday ser­vices. Wha­te­ver. Here’s the story:

When I first went online in Oct 1996 with AOL, I was requi­red to select my own so-cal­led screen­na­me. Back in tho­se days when we were tal­king of Online Ser­vice Pro­vi­ders (OSP) ins­tead of Inter­net Ser­vice Pro­vi­ders (ISP), AOL was one of the big play­ers among Compuserve.
I hate AOL. Do they still exist? Any­ways, what they did was for­cing me into this screen­na­me-selec­tion-pro­cess and so I typed in my first name (“Juer­gen”).

Now, sin­ce the­re were about hund­reds of other “Juergen1234” on AOL (I tend to ima­gi­ne someo­ne like Joe Dirt whenever I hear my name), I nee­ded to type in some­thing else. I then cho­se the first thing (name) that came to my mind: KAMAU.

Kamau Njo­ro­ge wa Uje­r­uma­ni, to be pre­cise. I know the­re’s this friend who goes by the name of Hami­si wa Tan­za­nia. Hami­si pro­bab­ly is what Kamau is in Kenya or Mül­ler, Mei­er, Schul­ze in Ger­ma­ny. My folks used to call me that way some­ti­mes becau­se I, a mzun­gu with a pro­found inte­rest in anything Ken­y­an, appar­ent­ly often beha­ved lik­ed some Mr Kamau.

To me, life in Kenya is this ter­ri­fic mix­tu­re of mee­ting ppl from dif­fe­rent back­grounds. Be it tho­se high-class peop­le in poli­tics you expect to see on the golf ran­ge or just ordi­na­ry chaps like you and me. And, befo­re I dig­ress even more, let me just men­ti­on how much I hate this sys­tem in many coun­tries whe­re you are vir­tual­ly not­hing unless you have a busi­ness card or some important title/credentials to show off. Tha­t’s so dumb and back­wards. I don’t need that. Peop­le are so used to a cer­tain frame and try to cate­go­ri­ze you right after they’­ve met you. They want what? Cate­go­ri­ze me? Which part of me? I clear­ly nee­ded a name that gives me the chan­ce to hide in the mas­ses or other­wi­se makes me uni­que. One whe­re ppl would­n’t ask fur­ther ques­ti­ons or may­be even divert this quest for creden­ti­als (~“how influ­en­ti­al is he”) into a trig­ge­red curio­si­ty to know more about me as a per­son, and not with whom I might have lunch.

In the end, it’s all about mar­ke­ting yourself — right? How many ppl in Kenya are cal­led Kamau? A mil­li­on? The­re you have it…

The name “Kamau” was alrea­dy given away to ano­t­her user on AOL. Damn it. I had to think of some­thing else. And the next word that came to my mind was “Kikuyu”. So I typed it in. Basi.…woiii? Alrea­dy someo­ne with that screen­na­me on AOL? wth?!?

…so I just added the third next word which was “moja”, thus making it

KIKUYUMOJA.

(The Agi­kuyu, eth­nic group in Kenya; moja = 1 in Kis­wa­hi­li => Kikuyu1, K1, etc.)

What a dumb name.

My Ken­y­an friends would surely ask me nas­ty ques­ti­ons. And the Ger­mans? They would pro­noun­ce it like [Kiiku­uju­u­mohhhjaaaaah] — a long moooo­jaaaaahh. Like in this Rasta­fa­ri­an JAAAAH. Yeah.…great.

I stuck to that name though, after I left AOL in Decem­ber 1996 becau­se I got used to it and then after some time I even regis­tered my first domain name on it. And now, almost ten years after that, this sto­ry still makes me think: WTF?! :-))

Tha­t’s it! Tha­t’s how I got my name. Simp­le as that! Kikuyumoja.
It could be anything else. Luo­mo­ja? Juer­genimo­ja? Mzungu­mo­ja? Wait, Mzungu­mo­ja — wacha, tha­t’s you, Hash :-) Ama?

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