Brazilian Couple Denied Child's Name Registration Because it's African
When it comes to naming kids most moms spend more than half their pregnancy period diligently searching for that perfect name. Now imagine putting all that thought into it only for the name to be rejected. Not by your spouse, not by family, but by the government.
This happened to a couple in Rio. The pair wanted to give their baby the African name Makeda Foluke. Makeda is used by Ethiopians in reference to Queen of Sheba, and Foluke is Nigerian. The two names put together mean “Grandiose that is at the care of God.”
Apparently, Brazil prefer European names and the father, Cizinho Afreeka and his wife, Jessica Juliana knew this. But seeing as there is a considerable number Brazilians from Africa, the couple didn't think the name would actually be rejected. Sadly, it was. The registration officials refused to put the name on the birth certificate saying it had not been approved by the 2nd district of São João de Meriti’s registration office. However, the couple say they were told the name would shame their daughter as she grew older; that it would set her up for failure.
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“It’s a form of racism that takes place in Brazil: the racism of subtleties,” Afreeka said. “It should be very natural a man and a black woman adopting an African name, as the country is made up of three races. It is difficult to prove. Only those in this skin is knows.”
Before the baby was born, Afreeka had spoken to a civil registration official on phone who said had the name was fine. “He said he thought the name was beautiful,” Afreeka said. “They already knew that the name was African. They searched the internet before giving a negative. I made a petition and took a statement from my wife authorizing, but it was denied. The notary suggested I put a name in Portuguese in front. But I will keep on until the end. Either it will be Makeda Foluke or she’ll be with no registration.”
Luiz Fernando, an official the registration office defended the office’s decision saying, “The procedure is necessary with any name that can be used to leave the child in a vexatious situation or bullying. You have to filter. These procedures are normal, no one refused to do the registration. It is not the name, not the meaning. It’s pronunciation, diction. Racism is really in people’s minds.”
Basically, they are not entirely against putting the name on the certificate; they will only put it IF the couple agree to put a European name before it. They also claimed the pronunciation of the name in Portuguese makes no sense; it only comes out wrong which could ruin the child's social life in future.
As per citation from Madamnoire.com:
"The criterion is the analysis of the magistrate and prosecutors who act to protect the child. Law 6.015/ 73 gives this power to avoid registrations with names that may affect the social life. The criteria are the social and historical phonetics of Portuguese, verifying the sense that the name may have to be spoken or read, must meet in these criteria elements that can classify it as vexatious. Thus are considered vexatious historical names of bloodthirsty dictators or persecuted characters or execrated over time, the objectification of the name or the phonetic pronunciation, which seems to be the case, because it will not make any sense to those who do not know its origin and its translation, favoring acts as “bullying” or discrimination. Several cases where the lack of care of the registers and deeper analysis produced cases that later forced people to go to court to change the first names are notorious due to the embarrassment caused in childhood. One of the most famous was that of the daughters of Baby and Pepeu (1)."
If the judge rejects the name, the couple can appeal through the Council of the Magistracy next.
But should a family go through such lengths to give their baby a name? Would you add a name before Makeda if you were in the couple's position?
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