The name is Akerejah...Delé Akerejah. I proudly type my name onto the computer screen. It echoes in my head as I make mental utterance. I feel full of confidence and pride in my ancestry as the African Man...the Original Man…the Black Man. Then however a schism occurs in my mind due to the reaction that the computer I’m using has to my correctly spelled out name. A “zigging” red line under my sacred name accusingly indicts it as an error! It accusingly declares that It must be a misspelled word! “Such combinations of letters have no place in civilized vocabulary!” is the not-so-subtle message conveyed. It is one of the veiled reminders that no matter how “American blue'“ my passport is… or which presidents name the hospital I was born in bears, I am still something of an unwanted other in American/western civilization according to the programming and algorithms of Microsoft Word or any other prevailing computer application.
It is no small thing to notice when this is a tenet of ones’ daily life. And this piece is not a call for racial ethnic sensitivity or any other such platitudes of whiny social justice. After all, it is the 21st century. An African,Asian, or Middle Easterner of sound mind and ingenuity could easily crowdfund or self sponsor the development of a word processing application or program that treats non-European names with dignity instead of “incorrect words”. Such a movement would certainly cause Microsoft to consider such a threat to its’ international market share considering the majority of the world does not come from Europe or the United States. I mean… I’m sure Bjork gets vexed from time to time “but you know what I’m sayin’”
William Shakespeare once asked “What’s in a name?”. It prompts discussion in intellectual circles at home and abroad, but for the African traditionalist the answer has always been, and is still age old and profound. He or She would plainly state that “A Persons’ Name Is Their Destiny!”…. My full name is Akindele Ikhide Akerejah...and yes, if you’re curious enough to know its’ English translation from Yoruba you’ll have to do your own homework. However my point is that such a name is never given casually nor for the all too common reasons of flight or fancy such as “because it sounds nice”. These “misspelled word names” such as mine are overwhelmingly pregnant with meaning of the teleological sort.
I write about this at length in a departure from my usual areas for the blog because of one simple reason...”I am an Artist Dammit!”; And we all know few things mean more to an Artist than his or her good Name… reverberating through history and into infinity! The artist is one of the few individuals who pursues immortality with single minded purpose, at all points pushing past the fleeting nature of the flesh in time and space.
It pisses me off to no end that as long as I can’t invent my own computer, I must necessarily submit myself to the subtle diminution and micro aggression of a civilization that does not recognize world culture or its’ contributions as its’ substratum.
Nonetheless… With each keystroke that spells out my “misspelled word” name, I am fueled to “Make a name’ for Myself” with a boiling indignant righteousness that a “John Smith” or “Jane Doe” will never be able to access or harness in the same way. In the case of real people the difference is clear. Mark Bradford, a blue-chip African-American artist is quite well established as is merited by his work, yet his name and identity were never in danger like mine is if I don’t follow my Star with all of my being! Should Mark Bradford have not become THE Mark Bradford...Another Mark Bradford who was a great let’s say… insurance agent would register in the human record as the sands of time push our species forward. I however, am the only Akindele Ikhide Akerejah on the Entire Planet Earth…perhaps the Universe itself!!! Should I die in obscurity despite all of my efforts in the high barrier world of art, I am not only erased from the human record by mere osmosis, but furthermore, should anyone attempt to recall me they will be stonewalled by the fact that I would be only a spelling error...”Something” that needed to be extirpated out of the human stream of consciousness!
The extremity of these musings are founded on real concerns. I am an American-African Artist...My claim of the latter is considered an act of war against a certain status quo in many reactionary circles...My place on this battlefield is an existential crisis of great personal magnitude...but I “stand up” when I sit to type or write “Delé Akerejah” because I am thus declaring… “Okay Computer...My name is spelled correctly...you made a mistake with that red line despite all of your assumed omniscience.”.