About the Name Bena

Being the operator of an internet presence server is only one of a number of careers I've had the good fortune to pursue. One of the previous ones was being an anthropologist. I plan to keep adding more details to my bio about some of the others, but anthropology is the one that lies behind the name I've chosen for my internet company.

In the course of study and research for my Northwestern University Ph.D. in Anthropology, I lived for fourteen months in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea in a village inhabited by people who can be called by a number of different names -- one of which is Benabena, benabena'bo (the suffix "bo" means "people"), or Bena for short.

The people of the exact area that I lived in weren't actually called Benabena until after the arrival of people from the outside world into the Highlands of New Guinea shortly before World War Two. The name Benabena was originally just one of many comparable geographically based names but was extended to all the people in the valley who speak the same language because the Benabena group were the ones with whom the outside explorers first had extensive contacts. The name of the people I lived with was actually Nekematigi, but they now answer to the name Bena.

When we were thinking about what to choose for a domain name and a business name, we were trying to think of names that were short, easy to type, and not already taken (like Dana) and Bena seemed like a good choice. It is good to have some linkage between parts of one's life that are otherwise quite separate, so it seems that Bena is a particularly suitable choice for a name, since the time I spent living with the Bena people in New Guinea was such a significant part of my life.

By the way, if you search the internet on the word Bena, besides us you'll find Bena Currin. I was delighted to learn from Bena Currin that she and I pronounce Bena the same way -- Ben, just like the name Ben, and then add "ah" -- definitely not pronounced like Beana or Beena.

Bena is also an Autralian Aboriginal word, there is a "Bena's Australia Shopping Directory" which I think must be derived from an Aboriginal language and I have also received email from the students at Bena Primary School in Gippsland, Victoria who tell me that their name Bena comes from the Aboriginal term for the lyrebird.

I have also received email from Andrea Bena, a California resident who tells me that her name is of Czech derivation. A search I did on Altavista yielded a listing for a location named Bena in the Encyclopedia/Gazeteer of Slovakia. Andrea also tells me that one meaning of the word "bena" is "crazy" in Czech.

Looking at Altavista searches gives me the idea that there must be a Bantu language or people called Bena in Africa, but I haven't had the time to follow up on that yet.