A Hero Named Okafor

When I was looking for the perfect name for the African slave boy who would become Mary Boland’s soul brother, I found Okafor on an African website.


It felt right. And so he was born. Kamua Okafor. I nearly made the greatest mistake in my writing life by allowing him to join the sailors in the rape of Mary. “Bad idea,” my critique partners screamed in unison.


So, Kam became a hero, not a rapist. And the second most important character in Shanty Gold.


Imagine my surprise when I watched a basketball game on TV and saw Jahlil Okafor, the Duke star. At 6’11”, he’s a bit taller than I envisioned Kamua, but you know how it is. Vitamins and good nutrition and stuff.


My book will be out very soon, and I bet everyone will think I swiped Jahlil’s name. Not true! Jahlil stole his name from Kam. I hope Jahlil becomes every bit as wonderful a man as his namesake, Kamua.


jeanne charters Jeanne Charters writes about the business of living your life to the fullest. Over the years through her magazine columns, books and blog posts, she has sought to help other women face life's challenges through humor, strength and perseverance.

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