My Name Is Savage, But I am Not Savage

Big Joe 5“Whatever happens to me benefits me.” – Joel Savage

Why many do ask me if ‘Savage’ is my real name? Once a British woman told me she hates her name ‘Mrs Ball’ and worst of all, my father’s name is ‘Mr. Underworld,’  she said. Yes, many of us have strange names. Some do change and others keep them.

I was born Joel Savage, at Cape Coast, in the central region of Ghana, on January 19, 1957, to Justin Savage, a professional journalist and Nancy-Elizabeth Hudson, an accomplished seamstress and a sewing teacher.

Last year, during my summer holidays in Barcelona, Spain, I gave one of my books to a student I met at the hotel I lodged. At the computer hall, I was flabbergasted when I saw his friends laughing at my name. I pretended I wasn’t listening to their conversation.

Then on January 1, 2016, history repeats itself. At the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, when ready to board my flight, an officer at the last checkpoint controlled my passport and the only question he threw at me is: How do you pronounce this word? Pointing directly to the name, “Savage,” I answered.

“Well, I’m glad that you mentioned it yourself, because I thought that may provoke you if I had said the same thing.” He said and gave back my passport to me.

If names have impact on people, then I am exceptional. I am happily married since 1993 and still live with the same woman. If I’m savage, uncivilized, cruel or a beast, my wife wouldn’t have been with me today. My three sons can stand behind me and tell everyone how caring and compassionate their father is.

What I know about myself is, I have intrepid sort of character. I don’t give up and no one can break me down physically, psychologically, emotionally or spiritually. In my life, I take any misfortune as beneficial and every problem as a challenge, because you can’t survive in this world if you submit to problems.

This is the reason many people are depressed, alcoholics or drug addicts. Because they don’t have the will power to fight and overcome those destructive tendencies. Savage is just a name but it has no influence on me. I believe in God and the Bible is my shield and Armour.

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Humour: The Man With A Sad Face

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The man with a sad face

Sometimes before a baby is born, his or her parents had already suggested suitable names for the child. Names are influenced by our popular culture, tradition and heroes. Many people bear Biblical names, others not. As a Ghanaian from the Fantse tribe, my traditional name is Ato or Kwamena, because I was born on Saturday.

Names mean a lot but it’s not everyone who knows someone’s name. That’s the reason we often hear “Please what’s your name?” You may know someone because you’ve seen the person a couple of times, but may not know his or her name. I am one of them. In the neighbourhood where I grew up in Africa, few knew me but don’t know my name.

One day someone I know came looking for me in the neighbourhood where I lived. That was his first attempt to visit me. He mentioned my name, yet no one could help him. One Good Samaritan tried his best to help him. “Can you please describe the man you are looking for,” he asked the stranger. “He is a man with dark complexion, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, whose face looks like someone crying.”

“May be I know him, because there is a man who lives close to the beach, whose face really looks like someone crying, maybe it’s him,” said the Good Samaritan.

“Can we go to see if he is the one,” said the stranger. I was at home when I heard a knock on the door, as soon as I opened, stands Ben, my cousin who lives in the Western Region of Ghana. He narrates the funny description which led to my discovery.

“What, do my face looks like someone crying?” I asked.

“If your face doesn’t look like someone crying, how can this Good Samaritan realize that to come home with me? Ben asked.

This is not a matter of anger but laughter. I laughed so hard that my stomach ached, the fact that Ben has never told me this before. After Ben’s visit, I thought about this for a very long time and decided to get rid of this funny and humourous description about me.

By then I’ve heard of the book called ‘The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Pearle. I contacted a friend who had more books than me and borrowed Norman’s book from him. It was a very thick book but inspiring. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Pearle.

I did really enjoyed reading this interesting book. In fact, I have no words to describe how the book miraculously transformed my life, to get rid of that hidden facial expression which I have lived with for years without my knowledge. Well, it may be that my face still looks like someone crying, because of too much trouble in this world.