Kabajungu Sharleen

The birth of my treasured traditional name

Kabajungu; a long and rare traditional name from the western part of Uganda, which technically means, “For the white man” when translated to English. Growing up, I did not like it especially at school. My teachers and classmates pronounced it in whatever fashion they felt like. I always preferred people calling me by my first name, Sharleen.

Given to me by my father, I eventually got a chance to ask him what it meant at around the age of 18. When asked, my father mentioned that he had lost his younger sister in his earlier life by the names of Kabajungu, hence being given the name so as to keep it within the family.

The other meaning of my name is simple. I was born in a period when my father was studying in Europe. Most people in Uganda refer the white man to “muzungu.” Kabajungu is a simple combination of Kaba and Jungu, which is the same as zungu. Kaba means for and Jungu, just like zungu stands for white man.