• Lorraine Johnson

[43] The Story Of A Name

It was 1995, Ibraimo Ali Sambe was 83 years old, an elder sitting on a grass mat on the Island of Ibo, off the coast of Cabo Delgado. And from his mat he told me the story of Ibo.


A long time ago, before Ibo was inhabited, the people lived on the neighboring island of Karimba. The fishermen would travel to the waters off "Ibo" to fish. But they would return to Karimba when the sun went down.


In Karimba, there lived a man who was very, very jealous. He decided to take his wife to this neighboring island "Ibo" where they could live alone in peace till the end of time. Yet the fishermen from Karimba continued to make their daily journey to the neighboring island to fish. Yet now, when they were departing in the early morn, they would call out, "I'm going to Wivo," the Kimwani word for "jealous."


After some time the Portuguese arrived on the Island of Wivo to colonize the people. The food, clothing and material they brought enticed the inhabitants of Karimba to move to Wivo. And when the Portuguese asked the Mozambicans they encountered what the name of the island was, the people said "Wivo." The Portuguese understood the name as "Ibo," and thereafter the name remains until today.


And so went many names, on many lands.