I Am Chisom – New Name, New Direction

I am still Denver; but, I’ve also got a new name, Chisom, pronounced ‘Chee-some’. This name originates from Igboland in southeastern Nigeria. I was given this name recently by Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, an elder in the Igbo community. I’m not just accepting my African culture anymore. I’ve been given an identity and a seal of acceptance. You see, having a name makes me a part of the community. I’m not an outsider or outcast. I’m a member of a proud community and my name grants me a distinct value.

This means a lot. I see it as a rare opportunity that Africans and African-Americans collaborate. I’d like to see our communities interact more. This is just a start! My new name is based on the elder’s vision of me. He saw my pioneering and charismatic quality. He saw the “Chi,” the spiritual force that drives me and motivates me. It’s the essence in which I live and move, but even more, the Chi is the guardian spirit that leads, protects and commands one’s life in Igbo culture.

A Moment of Truth and an Opportunity

Chief Ogbonnia, my mom and I were among hundreds of people that attended the 2017 Igbo World Festival of Arts and Culture held annually in Staunton, Virginia. The festival brought us together; however, it took an impromptu conversation after the festival, punctuated by moments of reflection, followed by a mutual appreciation of the deeper connections we share as African-Americans and Africans – all of which ultimately led to the naming. Read the full article here.


About the Author:
Denver Beaulieu-Hains is the DSG, African American Outreach for CISA.