My Name Poem by Magoleng wa Selepe: Questions and Answers

My Name Poem by Magoleng wa Selepe: Questions and Answers.

The Poem:

Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

Look what they have done to my name …
the wonderful name of my great-great-grandmothers
Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

The burly bureaucrat was surprised.
What he heard was music to his ears
‘Wat is daai, sê nou weer?’
‘I am from Chief Daluxolo Velayigodle of emaMpodweni
And my name is Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa.’

Messiah, help me!
My name is so simple
and yet so meaningful,
but to this man it is trash…

He gives me a name
Convenient enough to answer his whim: 15 I end up being
Maria …
I …

Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa.

About the Poem: My Name Poem by Magoleng wa Selepe

Under white rule, Africans were required to have European names at school, in church, at work, and in their formal identification documents, documents they would need to carry at all times.

Language use:

Three languages are used in this poem: the narrator’s Xhosa name, the government bureaucrat’s Afrikaans, and the narrator’s replies in English. The narrator chooses not to reply in Afrikaans, because Africans saw it as the language of the hated government.

When was My name by Magoleng wa Selepe written

It is a bit unclear when exactly was the poem “My Name” written by the author Magoleng waSelepe. However, it first appeared on the magazine in 1979.


  1. State TWO reasons why the speaker is very proud of her name.
  2. Refer to line 2 (‘Look what they have done to my name …’). What feeling does the speaker express in this line?
  3. What does the word ‘burly’ (line 5) suggest about the bureaucrat?
  4. Refer to line 6 (‘What he heard was music to his ears’). Does the reference to music suggest that the bureaucrat appreciates the speaker’s name? Give a reason for your answer. (2)
  5. Where does the speaker come from? (1)
  6. Refer to line 10 (‘Messiah, help me’). What does the use of the word ‘Messiah’ suggest about the speaker? (2)
  7. Identify the figure of speech used in line 13, (‘but to this man it is trash …’). (1)
  8. Explain why the bureaucrat changes the speaker’s name to Maria. (2)
  9. Choose ONE word that emphasises how the speaker feels about her name. (1)
  10. What does this poem suggest about the bureaucrat’s political beliefs? (2)
  11. Refer to lines 16 – 18 (I end up being Maria …). Discuss the effect created by the use of very short lines at this point in the poem.

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