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Digging for a Name


‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ the popular song by the Beatles, was playing again that day in the camp where the archaeologists were staying. After weeks and months of surveying, digging and analysing a discovery was made. What the archaeologists found that day was the skeleton of one of humans’ oldest ancestors. We know of this finding as Lucy – inspired by the song that was playing in the camp, but in her home country she is known as Dinkenesh. To share this exciting discovery with the world beyond Ethiopia, Lucy became common; perhaps Dinkenesh wasn’t as marketable.

Choosing a name

Choosing a name that is easy to pronounce, is meaningful and portrays the right images and feelings is often a difficult thing, and we experienced this with trying to find a name for our concept and brand too. When the initial draft of the first business plan was being written the file was called Dadia (a merging of David and Nadia), the second birth was simply called Development Chic, third was Konjo Development Chic, until finally we discovered ‘Danaqa’, to which we added the tag line World Chic. We came to this through a similar surveying, digging, and analysis process as the archaeologists who found Lucy.

Surveying, Digging and Analysing

Arriving at the name Danaqa involved a consultation with our investors, board members and any talented wordsmiths and linguists that we knew. We surveyed those people about their feelings about names such as Liyu, Qonjo, Maba, QachQach and Cenyi- that we had unearthed from the web, language dictionaries and people we knew. Each has their own relevant meaning, but none of them were quite right. We were considering viability as website names, ease of pronunciation, pleasant sound, and aesthetic look and design potential of the words themselves.

After more digging- we discovered Danaqa, a word with the same language root as Dinkenesh (Lucy). When the archaeologists and workers came across the tiny skeleton they were amazed, flabbergasted, elated, and they were very pleasantly surprised- so named her Dinkenesh.

Dinkenesh and Danaqa are both derived from the Ethiopian word ‘to be pleasantly surprised’. Danaqa is a slightly altered word in order to be more easily pronounced (Dinkenesh is the female form of the word), but the heritage is the same.

Sharing with the world

This name was perfect for what we wanted to do, for what we wanted to achieve. The reaction we are looking for when you see, and hopefully buy, something from Danaqa is to be pleasantly surprised. To be surprised that something so nice, so luxurious and so creative is made and designed by Salem, in Ethiopia or Sonali, in Sri Lanka. We want you to be surprised that craftsmen in Rwanda and Botswana can make such beautiful bags and necklaces that are contemporary and of high quality.

We want to do our name justice…so we hope you will be pleasantly surprised at what we will have to offer.

Danaqa is an inspirational luxury and unique lifestyle brand for those with a passion for fashionable, quality, bespoke personal and household accessories and a desire to help entrepreneurs from the developing world grow.

Reynette Royer-Thomas
- 08 March 2011 at 14:56

Congratulations on developing this excellent initiative! Wishing you every success as you both continue making a positive difference in this world! Nadia, I hope that one day our Anthropology/Development paths merge.

Warmest regards,
Reynette Royer-Thomas

Ps. The name Danaqa is absolutely fantastic!
Rick Awdas
- 24 March 2011 at 16:41

Hi, fantastic story and one I am sure my readers would be interested in knowing more about. I would love to do a feature on you in April. Could you send me an email so we can talk. Thanks Rick

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