A weekly feature by Curtis Morton Sr

The way I see it, in this harshly critical society in which we exist, NICKNAMES are inevitable.

Very few persons on Nevis, have succeeded in living their entire lifetime, without being associated with some sort of a nickname.  It could be something as simple as reading in class and mispronouncing a word.

My good friend GOOGLE tells me: “A nickname is ‘a familiar or humorous name given to a person or thing instead of or as well as the real name.’ A nickname is often considered desirable, symbolizing a form of acceptance, but can sometimes be a form of ridicule. A moniker also means a nickname or personal name.”

From my personal experience, some Nicknames are taken in jest, but others can get some people hopping mad.

I remember the day I got my nickname and it made me hopping mad.

There we were in 5th form, on the verge of completing our secondary education and the ‘devil really finds work for idle hands to do.’  It was a free period and some of the boys were involved in a conference.  They were discussing the fact that two boys had managed to get to 5th form without nicknames.  They were: Curtis Morton and George Rawlins.  We had such unique names in that class like YAMHEAD, TOAD, SHORTY, VIOLENCE…..

So, they decided that there and then, they would find nicknames for us.  Being one of the shortest persons in the class, someone suggested SHORTY, but it was quickly pointed out that we already had a SHORTY and the person persisted with SHORTY 2, but that one did not gain any favour with the majority.

Then, Patrick Liburd-his nickname was BOILEY, came up with this ‘brilliant’ idea. He said that there was a midget from Anguilla, who was so small, he performed on top of tables and they called him SANDOPEY.  They started to call me the name and I reacted foolishly. I was angry and showed that I was angry. The more I showed my anger, the more they called me the name.

Well I newa!

Not so with George. When they tried to put a name on him, he nearly choked off one of the individuals who called him the name and suddenly the others were not so brave after all.  But you see, George could fight. I was no fighter and my classmates knew it.

Soon, even first formers were calling me the name and laughing. I knew I could not do much about it then.  It was long after that, that someone told me that the best way to avoid a nickname, is to call the person who is calling you the name, by the same name. Eventually, the fun would wear out.

Now when I decided to enter the calypso arena, many moons ago, I had the opportunity to change that name. I could have called myself anything. Folks would not have even remembered the name SANDOPEY, but I decided that that name was already established, so I would use it and probably make it into a name of honour.

Some years later, I composed the song NICKNAME, in 1981 to be exact.  It was one of the more intense songs that I ever created and was even more difficult to learn.

It involved island-wide research. I had SCOUTS all over the island. My former boss, Mr. Crispin Fahie, had already started a collection as a hobby and he shared with me about 100 nicknames in Nevis alone!  By the time I received from the other individuals, I had almost a five hundred names to choose from.

That in itself was an assignment. I tried to select those that I thought were most humourous.  If I was more sensitive then, I probably would not have included some.  It was long after and even up to this year, that I discovered that some persons were seriously offended by the song.

Amazingly, there was one man who was disappointed with me for another reason.  Vernon Manners (now deceased), met me one day and said that he was disappointed with me.  ‘You mean, we know each other for all these years and you could not include my name!’  His nickname was KANGAROO.

I remember also, one day I was walking in Charlestown with the King Ginger and Mr. William Archibald aka WILLIE NATTA (deceased), was passing by and Ginger shouted: ‘Ah he sing bout you!’  Mr. Archibald approached me in an aggressive manner, shouting: “Ah you put me name in a sing! Ah you put me name in a sing!”  Ginger was laughing his head off, but I was not amused.

That song was difficult to learn. I sang it everywhere I went.  When I was walking, bathing…I mean everywhere and yet on the final night I still had a small BUSS, but no one realized it, because it was about NICKNAMES and so I just filled in the gap with NICKAMES. It worked.

That song was voted the top song for Culturama 25, in a call-in program on VON radio.

I remember one night, Ginger and I were asked to perform on a show in St. Kitts, starring King Obstinate. The song was a hit as usual.  After the show, Ginger told me that OBSTI wanted to buy the song from me for a thousand dollars.  Now, in those days, a thousand dollars was a lot of money, but I took it as an affront.

After all, my work was not for sale. He wanted to take it back to Antigua and put in Antiguan nicknames and make it a ‘big hit.’  I understand that he was not happy with my response.

Now the original recording was fading and many persons kept hegging me to redo it, for posterity.  Because I am no longer in the arena, I really was not interested, but ABONATTY especially, persisted and the fact that the CXC syllabus has students doing research into a wide variety of Caribbean topics, I decided to redo the song, as it may help some students in such a research.

Well, ABONATTY emailed me to tell me that the song has been released and some persons seem to be excited about it.

I am really sorry if there is anyone who is still offended after so many years.  And for those persons who keep asking, here is the song in its entirety:


Verse 1

Ah did a research right in dis ya land, very recently
On di kinda names, we call daily in society
People of this land I want you all to listen carefully,
As my findings, were quite naturally, very jokey
Now, since the days of our slavery,
Man used to call man nicknames,
Whether they took it seriously, or were just playing silly games,
Now, a lady calls her young baby GEORGE EZEKIEL ZEPHANIAH
And when the parson christen he, now she’s feeling plenty better
But twenty years later, she’s shocked to hear,
Them calling her beloved dear, DONKEY SOVER

Chorus 1
Nicknames: Names like Charlie Hen, Georgie Whiteman and even, Willy Natta
Nickname: Bag ah Fowl, Two Batty, Sugar Cake, Tun-Tun-Scab, they so familiar
Nicknames: Names like WOK-E-Nutten, Stale Money, Cudop and Pompaleto
Nicknames: Jenny Sookie, Monkey Bomb, Cycabone-Brother man, well ah tell you
Nicknames, Nicknames, they are a part of our culture
Nicknames, Nicknames, they bound to live on forever, forever, forever, forever!

Verse 2

One aspect which I found to be very, very interesting
Was the origin, reason for calling, the names you giving
A girl might be fat, you say FATTY, or if he short, well, SHORTY
If he aint good looking, you might call he, well, John Monkey
A fella who long and bony, you just might call he LABU
And if a fella does act like DABBI, well, you just might call he SABU
And if a fella hand kinda ‘sticky,’ is MONGOOSE, maybe CHICKEN
And when some girls on stage making mistakes, is BRIMSTONE HILL, ST. BARBADOS and ting
But di ting dat really puzzle me, is how dey call a tall, handsome guy like me-SANDOPEY

Chorus 2

Nicknames: Names like Fader Crab, Knock-It, Coarse Rum and Crabie Dugie,
Nicknames: Congo Foot, Pot-ah Rice, Pussy Dead, Yam Head and Rasta Nani,
Nicknames: Names like In DE Waist, Man from Hell and even Stugumber
Nicknames: Emily Jun-Jun, King-Kong, Hop-ah Long, you must remember
Nicknames, Nicknames, they are a part of our culture
Nicknames, Nicknames, they bound to live on forever, forever, forever, forever!

Verse 3

Before I conclude, now don’t think me rude, but let me intrude
On your corrupt minds, that remain sublime, in this changing time,
I would like to give a good piece of advice, right now, to you,
We aint in no race, there’s a time and place, for the things we do
Now if you happen to call a fella DUN, that fella might not get ‘hot’
But if you call a Police MARAG DAWG, then he might look to lock you up,
If you call a lady HOG ENGINE, she’ll smile and say ‘Am alright’
But dare you say YAP or BAHMIN, you might cause confusion tonight
That’s why I want all of you to know, never meet Mr. Phillip, sweeping the street and call him TOU-TOU

Chorus 3

Nicknames: Names like Hard Life, Piggy-Wiggy, Yacht-Ah-Come and Jack Rabbit
Nicknames: Quemoch, Joe Donkey, Tope and Greedy and even Pretty Sh—-(shut you mouth)
Nicknames: Names like Mantone, Mandog, Manjack and Mighty Shoe Sole
Nicknames: Look at Babet and Priest and last but not least-Helen Haghole!
Nicknames, Nicknames, they are a part of our culture
Nicknames, Nicknames, they bound to live on forever, forever, forever, forever!


And so, it’s done.

My admonition, however, would be that going forward, we should not call anyone any names that are offensive to them. Mind you, some cases are rather strange and unique, because my good friend Anthony from Rawlins, gets mad if you call him by his real name ANTHONY and prefer you call him by his nickname, which is HAG!

I remember a weird occurrence at Grove Park one day in a cricket match. SUPER CHICK was at the crease and the two umpires were HAG and RAT!

However, I look forward to a NEW NAME in glory. I know that if by God’s grace I make it to heaven at last, there will be no more NICKNAMES, only NEW NAMES.

I look forward to that.

That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?

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