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We recently asked readers to suggest a name for us to research and write about. The name that received the most requests happens to belong to Barack Obama

The 44th President of the United States is named after his father, who was a Kenyan economist. Barack is an African name meaning “blessed.” It is a form of both the Hebrew name Baruch and the Arabic name Mubarak, which also mean “blessed” and relate to the Arabic barakah. Another common spelling of the name is Barak.

There is no connection between Barack and “barrack,” which has both a different spelling and pronunciation. A barrack is a building or group of buildings that lodge soldiers. It comes from the French barraque and the Spanish barraca, which means “cabin or hut.”

Obama is an ancient Kenyan surname. The name is found frequently among the Luo, the third largest ethnic group in Kenya. It is believed that the name derived from the root word obam, which means “to lean or bend.”

Obama’s middle name Hussein is the first name of his paternal grandfather. The name, which is of Arabic origin, means “good” or “handsome one.”

 Now, what do some of the most common last names in the United States, like Smith, mean? Find out here.

Here’s another chance to suggest names which you would like us to write about. Once again, the name with the most requests will be a blog topic in the near future.

Caribbean’s spice island An aromatic visit to Grenada, land of beaches, history–and nutmeg

Chicago Sun-Times August 19, 2001 | Paisley Dodds Gouyave, Grenada–Gliding into one of this island’s many tranquil ports, it’s hard to imagine anything beyond the smell of the sea, the hum of boat engines and the rhythm of the fishermen.

But away from the lap of the turquoise waters lies a lush interior of green mountains, wooden houses, waterfalls and dense nutmeg- scented forests, which give Grenada its nickname, “Spice Island.” Grenada offers visitors white sand beaches in the capital of St. George’s; posh hotels that overlook the bay; delicious Caribbean cooking; rugged hikes through mountains; charming guest houses; great scuba diving and history.

Grenada, however, is perhaps best-known for the bloody 1983 coup that prompted the United States to invade the island. After former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop fled to Ft. Rupert, a police and military installation, the revolutionaries stormed the building. A firing squad then executed Bishop and his Cabinet. site how to shave

The United States, fearing Grenada would become a political satellite of Cuba with an airfield capable of sending Cuban jets deep into South America, invaded six days later, thus putting Grenada on the map for many people who otherwise would have never taken notice of it.

But Grenada’s main attraction and its backbone has always been spice.

In the 1600s, expensive nutmeg was guarded jealously by Dutch colonizers bent on maintaining a monopoly while the British and French plotted to steal fertile seeds.

Some say the popular spice, used to flavor everything from apple pie in the Western Hemisphere to curries in the East, was brought to this Caribbean island by an Indian doctor who used the nuts in homeopathic remedies. Others say it ended up on Grenada’s shores after pirates looted a ship from the spice’s native Indonesia.

The tale given the most credence in this former French and then British colony, however, is that the trees arrived in the middle 1800s with local planters returning from Indonesia, where they had been taken to help expand cocoa production.

Whatever the case, Grenada is now the world’s largest producer of nutmeg after Indonesia.

“This island is so beautiful, and seeing the spices where they are grown, it’s just incredible,” says Damien Maeder, 50, of Mulhousa, France, bending down and taking a deep breath of grated nutmeg, held in the palm of a barefoot spice vendor. here how to shave

Gouyave (pronounced GWAHV), about 15 miles north of the capital of St. George’s, has become a major gathering point for people on the island, whether they be nutmeg farmers or tourists.

To the east are white sand beaches; to the west, 75-foot nutmeg trees and flowering bougainvillea. The town itself is sedate–small, dusty streets, a couple of brightly colored wooden stores and a local liquor store where people sip Carib beer to break the heat.

But what most people come for is the nutmeg.

At the 200-year-old Dougaldston Estate, about five minutes from the town center, cocoa and other spices are processed. The dilapidated farm is in the middle of a lush forest about a half-hour drive from the popular tourist destination of Concord Falls.

Visitors feel the branches of a nutmeg tree, are shown how to shave off the bark of the cinnamon tree and how to take slivers of the cocoa bean to make rich hot chocolate. The last part of the demonstration, given by tour operators, involves a jar of rum and spice.

“Ooh la-la,” exclaims Maeder, inhaling the aroma of the intoxicating brew.

At the heart of Gouyave’s activity is a three-story wooden warehouse where the country’s estimated 7,000 nutmeg farmers sell bags of nutmeg and mace, the lacy red sheath that blankets the nut. More than 130 people work at the plant, where the nutmeg is weighed, shelled and shipped to Europe and the United States.

“It’s my job to separate the good nuts from the bad ones,” says Lydia Harris, 43, one of dozens of women who earn $10 a day (19 Eastern Caribbean dollars) for work that often leaves them coated with a mixture of dust and nutmeg powder. “I’m so accustomed to nutmeg I don’t smell it anymore.” Once the nutmeg is sorted, it’s thrown into vats of water to determine which nuts have the most oil, making them the highest quality.

The next step is separating the different qualities of mace. No. 1 quality–the brightest shade of red–is used in cooking. No. 2, which is a little darker, is used as a preservative. And No. 3, the deepest shade of red, is used mostly as an industrial lubricant.

Visitors to the plant can see firsthand how the nutmeg ends up on supermarket shelves, or they can go directly to the tiny store that sells bags of nutmeg, nutmeg-flavored hot sauce and rum punch mix.

Also for sale are bags of black pepper, cinnamon, clove and ginger. They are all locally grown as well, but on this 12-by-21- mile island, nutmeg is the undisputed king.

“My grandmother used to get the nutmeg from the forests, and almost everyone in my family has worked with the spice in some sort of way,” said Delta Duprey, a 70-year-old spice vendor at the Dougaldston Estate. “I guess you could say nutmeg has become part of our culture.” Paisley Dodds

52 Comments

  1. Gelly -  December 6, 2013 - 10:13 pm

    Also barack means the “devil.” And it means “crooked.” It depends on what language meaning you search under. However, now these two meanings of barack are no longer searhable. If you would have researched his name in google way before he became president, like back in the late 90′s and early 2000′s these two meanings would have surfaced. Strangely enough, the internet search engines have been tampered with. And I wonder why? …

    Reply
  2. Shamoon -  August 5, 2013 - 12:11 pm

    The word Barack is an Arabic/Muslim name. In Arabic is written as براق which is the name of the donkey which was used by Prophet Muhammad (صلعم) to travel from Mecca to the Holly land-Palestine. براق was tied to the Barack Holly Wall and the Arc Angle carried the Prophet to visit the the seventh sky to meet all the Prophets. So that Barack is a Holly Muslim name.
    http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/sport/2013/08/04/-ميسي-ورفاقه-يزورون-حائط-البراق-.html
    The above link will shed more lights on Barack Holly Wall

    Reply
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