Like Thandiwe Newton, I want to embrace my full name in all its glory | Michelle Kambasha

Like Thandiwe Newton, I want to embrace my full name in all its glory | Michelle Kambasha

The Guardian

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Having names carelessly handled – even taken away from us – has an effect on identity. It is time to reclaim them

When the actor Thandiwe Newton announced last week that she’d be reverting to the original spelling of her name, I felt some recognition. The journey her name has taken over three decades will strike a chord with many African and other non-western diasporas who have encountered the difficulty Anglophone countries have with accommodating foreign names.

While shooting Flirting (Newton’s first feature film) in 1991, the director decided to give her character her own name, Thandiwe. But in the film’s credits, Newton the actor was listed by her anglicised “nickname”, Thandie, to avoid confusion – this was done without consulting her. From then on she was known professionally as Thandie Newton.

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