Language, Names, and War: The Case of Angola
This article shows the links between naming practices and war. The focus is on MPLA war names used during the Angolan struggle for independence. These names are framed in the wider context of the relations between language and war. In many African contexts, names are not singular and fixed, but may change with every personal transformation. Entering the life of a soldier constitutes just such a drastic change. The article shows that through war names, a kaleidoscope of issues may be addressed, including the relations between language, rank, and power, personal history and popular culture, spirit possession and resurrection, self-description and labeling, writing and legitimacy, and secrecy and identity.