Of Calling Her By Her Name: Thandiwe

I sat down with the intention to write a review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League… and I was thinking a bit about how Snyder’s Cut came about, after a bit of “creative differences” and personal tragedy led to Zack Snyder not completing the “original” Justice League and another director wrapping it up but with Snyder retaining film credit.

The cinematic world is a strange strange place and us mortals never get to know half of what happens there… I was thinking this, as I sat down to write and my thoughts kept coming back to Thandiwe Netwon and her interview in Vogue: “I’m Taking Back What’s Mine”: The Many Lives Of Thandiwe Newton

Thandiwe Newton Vogue Cover May 2021
Wearing Fendi Haute Couture on her British Vogue cover. 

© Mikael Jansson
Wearing Fendi Haute Couture on her British Vogue cover. 
© Mikael Jansson

The interview sheds a lot of insights on Thandiwe Newton, a sort of origins story, that could rival the character development or story arc of a protagonist or antagonist, right up-to the point they become who they are destined (or scripted) to be ha!


“That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.”

Thandiwe became known to the world as Thandie Newton after her debut film credit referred to her by her nickname to differentiate her from her character’s name who was also called Thandiwe.

The director of my first film asked to use my actual name for the character – because it was authentic and beautiful. I felt flattered and agreed. And then in the credits they used my ‘nickname’ to differentiate from the character name. They stole my name. And I’m taking it back.

Thandiwe Newton  in Beloved
Thandiwe Newton in 1998 movie Beloved

Thandiwe, means Beloved in Zulu and similarly in Ndebele which are part of the Nguni languages found in Southern Africa.

I have known a Thandiwe or two and its common for them to go by the nickname Thandi/Thandie a short form of their name; but in Thandiwe’s case the nickname came about in trying to blend with her new world at a Catholic Nun run school and the W of her name drifted inward, out of sight and earshot…

When she reclaimed her name, there was a bit of a furore because Vogue had mistakenly attributed the meaning of Thandiwe’s name to Shona instead of a Nguni language. The interview has been updated and now carries the correct attribution and Thandiwe tweeted an apology for the error:

Thandiwe is the daughter of  Zimbabwean Shona woman of the Manyika Tribe and an Englishman from Cornwall and she is taking back what’s hers…

Call her by name Thandiwe Newton


PS Some people may argue that Manyika is not a Tribe but a dialect of Shona others are of different opinion and personally I think Shona is a construct, it does not exist, neither as a language nor as an ethnicity but a tool that was used to strip away individual ethnic groups and refer to them all as one *end rant*

I may or may not have been listening to that Call me by name song as I wrote this, it’s a catchy track, even if the video really pushes the envelope on artistic creativity and steps on people’s sensibilities…



    1. She is a phenomenal actress and I have always been proud that she had a Zimbabwean heritage and I am glad to see her take back what’s hers.

      One of my reasons for starting this blog was exactly this, to celebrate the magic and mystery of my ancestry And of course the power to tell my own story… 😎


      Liked by 1 person

  1. A tree can’t ever really forget its roots.
    Its inspiring to see a woman of Thandiwe’s calibre realize the importance of her origin
    Am loving this…Big up to her

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found it highly inspirational as well, we go through life trying to fit in with the world instead of saying this is me and let the world accept us…

      You can never really know who you are if you don’t know where you come from, how would you even know where you are going ?

      I predict we are going to see more people reclaiming aspects of their identity


      Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha well as a nickname removing the W gives it one less syllable:
      Thandiwe – Tar Ndi Wear
      Thandie – Tar Ndi

      But mostly I think the whole thing was a calculated publicity stunt 😂😂 but hey I personally know people who are embarrassed by their names and try to “westernise” them… So seeing a high profile person own up to embracing aspects of their identity it really gives people a boost, so I’m all for it.. And ever since the incident I have seen a few people change their social media names to their full names and stop shortening them to “nicknames”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post, funny thing I don’t want my first name anymore and almost everyone from my hometown knows me by that name. I was named after my mom’s ex boyfriend’s sister, because he claimed that I am his daughter even though he and my mom had broken up for over a year already after he cheated on her with a woman his family didn’t approve of. I still don’t understand how he got to claim me as his own after they broke up. That worked to my father’s favour because he didn’t want his family to know that he got a girl pregnant, well a woman because my mom was 26 when I was born, they were both 26 and doing their second year in college. I don’t like that name because it caused a hell lot of confusion in my life growing up and because it is an Afrikaans surname. Whenever people ask me why I prefer my second name over my first name I always tell them that I have never came across an Afrikaners called Baloyi Van Tonder (Baloyi is a Tsonga surname). Back to my dad, I wonder how many children he had and hid from his family because he was scared of being disowned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Talk about a complicated legacy….
      Beauty of life is we can always reinvent our identity. We are not our names, we are not our skin colour, we are not our hair, we are not the language we speak or our hometown…

      Liked by 1 person

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