When Your Name Is Mud

As last names go, I’ve always thought “Coulibaly” was pretty, well, cool. Although it’s very common throughout West Africa, it’s rather unique in my section of New Jersey.

That was a good thing until Koman Coulibaly, a Malian soccer referree, disallowed a U.S. goal in their match against Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup, which led to the U.S. being eliminated.

Suddenly people began taking a rather negative interest in my last name. Despite my protests that our family comes from Burkina Faso (a totally different country in West Africa), there were still suspicious glances. Most of these people aren’t even soccer fans – they just think the U.S. should dominate everything we attempt. Which is cute, particularly when the contest in questio is THE World Cup.

Being blamed for Koman Coulibaly’s call is kind of like someone from America with the last name Smith being blamed for an offense committed by a Canadian with the last name Smith. There really is no relation.

However, if I’ve learned anything from William Shakespeare, it is this:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)


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