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'Black Panther' star Danai Gurira learned her native name at 5, embraced it much later

  • Published at 10:16 pm February 14th, 2018
  • Last updated at 10:17 pm February 14th, 2018
'Black Panther' star Danai Gurira learned her native name at 5, embraced it much later
'Black Panther' star Danai Gurira wrote an article on Glamour magazine stating that she didn’t know her name was Danai till she was five years old. Born in Grinnell, Iowa, to Zimbabwean academic parents, she was given the nickname Dede. In her native tongue, Shona, her real name meant “to be in love” or “to love one another,” an appropriate name for a girl born on Valentine’s Day. “As a typical little girl with cool cred to uphold, I wasn’t too into this other name. It sounded weird the way my mom pronounced it,” she wrote. Even after moving to Zimbabwe a year later, she insisted that everyone should call her Dede. But as she entered adolescence, a consciousness started to build up in her after she read Toni Morrison, Alex Haley, James Baldwin, speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. “I started to connect the dots around why I was rejecting my people’s cultural markers and the dominating effects of Eurocentric culture,” she wrote. “I questioned why I didn’t speak my parents’ native language and began to test how much Shona I knew, embracing the sounds, the tonalities, of this original tongue of my foremothers.” She said she eventually realized her heritage was to be celebrated, not denied.