Hey Beautiful people!
I’m excited to talk with you all today as I get to share a couple personal stories with you. My sewing community has been so loving and supportive to me and I am forever thankful for the bonds created. Because you are my family, I would love for you all to celebrate with me! This week I am having a big celebration, to celebrate my name! I know some of you may be a bit confused so I am going to share a portion of my story so that you can get to know me a little more.
My name is Kamali, and most of you only know me by just that. However, I wasn’t born with this name. I chose the name Kamali for myself. In order to explain this, we’d have to go back to little old me as a child. Let's take a small trip down memory lane shall we?
My mother was an amazing Black single mother. When she named me, she picked a European name that was easy to understand and pronounce. When I was older she told me, “I chose your name because I wanted you to have more opportunities. If people saw your name on paper, they would give you a chance without even seeing you in person.” My mother wanted more for me and thought that I would have more success getting jobs in my life rather than having a more “ethnic” name. “When they see an ethnic name on paper they will judge you without knowing what you can bring to the table” she said.
Sadly, there was truth in her words. Seeing a Black or African name meant that as a people we were instantly seen as less than without even knowing who we are. This was all too common years ago, and it would not shock me if it still goes on today. It all starts with a name.
I am thankful for the way my mother raised me. She had a lot of struggles in her childhood and as an adult. She just wanted a better life for me than what she had. My mom may have given me a European name, but she always instilled pride in me. She had lighter skin, but knew how colorism affected her as well as how it affected me having dark skin. She constantly told me that my dark skin was beautiful, that I was beautiful, that Black was beautiful. My mother passed away 11 years ago at the age of 42. She lived a short life but she packed so much knowledge and wisdom for me to carry into my own life and family. I take her lessons with me daily. I will never forget the impact she made on me and my little brother. She shaped me into the woman I am now.
Ever since I was in elementary school I was fascinated with our history as the African Diaspora living in America. The beauty, pain, struggle, triumph, and power that came from those who lived before me. That was powerful to me. And African names? I thought they were so unique and captivating. I remember being a high school student and searching African names just for the heck of it. This was a part of culture that was taken from me well before my time.
My previous name does not reflect who I am. I am of African descent. When Africans were brought over to the Americas as slaves they were stripped of their language, cultures and names. The slave masters gave their slaves their own last name and assigned them first names as well. When I learned this as an older child it made sense why I wasn’t attached to my birth name.
Changing my name was something that I always wanted to do but it all started at the beginning of the pandemic when my husband saying that he would love to change his name. I thought that would be incredible if I would change my name as well. From then, we did some research and bought an African name book to pick names. Once we agreed on a last name together as a family, My husband and I picked first and middle names for ourselves. All three kiddos were thrilled to have a new last name! Seeing them excited about this brings me so much joy. Picking African names for ourselves was necessary, and naming myself and our family is the most beautiful and liberating thing we have ever done.
Jan 25th is the court date to legalize our name. My husband’s paperwork will be taking longer but the kids and I’s name will be legalized on this date. We are celebrating the whole week as a family!
Now, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Kamali Azubike Obiagu.
Kamali (Kah-MAH-lee) means wealth in Rwanda, and Perfection in East Africa
Azubike (Ah-ZOO-bee-keh) is Nigerian for “The past is our strength”
Obiagu(Oh-bee-AH-goo) is Nigerian for Lion’s Heart
Of course I couldn’t let you all go without sharing some of my makes to celebrate my new legal name. With the excitement of these moments I had to sew up some outfits to look FLY for this rebirth!
Top: Petite Stitchery & CO’s Hibiscus. Bottoms: Helen’s Closet Winslows.
Second, this merlot Ponte! This color alone was made for me!
Top: Clio from George & Ginger Bottoms: Pegs from Patterns for Pirates
Top: Hibiscus from Petite Stitchery & CO. Skirt: Upton Maxi skirt from Cashmerette.
Thank you all for taking the time to read about my story, and why the week of the 25th is so important to me. I hope that sharing my story helps you to learn more about myself, Kamali.
I'll be posting in the Surge Fabric Shop Facebook group showing you more photos of these makes! Haven't joined the group yet? Come on over and join the community *here*
I will also have more outfits to show off throughout the week and if you'd like to see them you can follow me on IG *here*.
Peace and Blessings to you all!
To see more from Kamali follow her on Instagram!