What's in a Name?

Each chapter in DANCING IN THE SHADOWS OF LOVE starts with a quote from a Shakespearean play (all tragedies, except the last chapter which is a quote from the comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost)

In his ROMEO and JULIET, William Shakespeare also explored the importance of a name:

Jul.  O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

  Rom.  [Aside.]  Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

Jul.  ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

  Rom.        I take thee at thy word.
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptiz’d;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

And so we see how love can be affected by names! As DANCING IN THE SHADOWS OF LOVE is all about the search for love, the characters' names are as important as if they were a Capulet or a Montague.

While the meaning of a name can have many different interpretations, below is a list of the main meaning of DANCING IN THE SHADOWS OF LOVE character names. 

What do these names tell you about each character and their possible role in the story?

Luyando (called Lulu)Zambian name meaning 'love'

Jamila: Beautiful; Chaste (Somali)

Zahra: Of Arabic origin, and pronounced Zahrah, Zahra means flowerblossom, or beauty

Grace: The name Grace stems from Latin "gratia" meaning "pleasing quality," "favour," or "thanks." In Christian theology, grace is the unconditional love of God toward all people. In Greek Mythology, the three Graces (Kharites) were Goddesses of adornment, beauty, dance, festivity, grace, mirth and song.

Dawud: Variant of Daudi; Swahili name meaning 'beloved'.

Enoch: From the Hebrew name חֲנוֹך (Chanokh) meaning "dedicated". In Genesis in the Old Testament this is the name of both the son of Cain and the father of Methuselah, and the supposed author of the apocryphal Books of Enoch. Enoch, a pious teacher, scribe and leader of his people, is famed for the part he took in the tragedy of the fallen angels. Living during a time of great sins, around the flood, he was taken up to heaven and divinely transformed into the Archangel Metatron, the angelic scribe who records all the deeds, both good and bad, of humankind. You can read more about Enoch and Metatron here 

Elijah: The biblical prophet Elijah lived at a time of spiritual tyranny and terror, and his name means “God is my strength”. Remember,  in 2 Kings 2:11, "behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

Daren and Chuki Samanya: Samanya, of African origin means "The Unknown One", while Daren is of Gaelic origin and means either "the great one" or  "the burnt land or hill" and Chuki, a Swahili name, means "born in the midst of animosity between neighbours or family."

Ajani: Afghan Name Meaning - he who wins the struggle; African name meaning - He who fights for possession. (Nigerian). Prior Ajani is the spiritual counsellor who helps Lulu, Jamila and Zahra.

The Court of St Jerome: All three main characters find love at the Court of St Jerome. but who is St Jerome?

St. Jerome, the Patron Saint of Librarians, is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate. Above all a brilliant Scripture scholar, Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. With all the virtues and vices of being a fearless critic, and the usual flaws of a man, he was not an admirer of moderation, whether in virtue or against evil. Swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, he was even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. (Butler's Lives of the Saints).

Here is a quote from St Jerome in his “Letter to St. Eustochium", which suits the inner struggle (the ezomos / demons) each of our three heroines had to fight:

"In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome. In this exile and prison to which for the fear of hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them: In my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live. Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was." (Information from http://www.americancatholic.org/)

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