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  • Writer's pictureWoody Moran

The Danger of Reading Travel Essays When You Are Trying To Name Your Company

I recently attended the NAMM trade show in Anaheim, CA, where I was showing off the Kava Laptop Studio Bag as well as my first prototype sample of the Big Namba Studio Backpack. One of the questions that keep being asked was, “where did you come up with the name Namba Gear for your company? Once I told the story, it seemed unanimous that I should share it with my readers. So here is the story, with the warning that if you are easily offended by the word “penis” that you shouldn’t read any further.

A Short History of the Differences Between The Big Namba and The Small Namba

I came across a little known piece of “new” information when I stopped at London’s Heathrow airport at the beginning of 2007 on a flight from Berlin to Los Angeles. Well, at any rate, I didn’t know it and none of my friends knew about it, so it was new info to us.

I love the bookstore at Heathrow as they always seem to have a great selection of travel essays. And this is where I stumbled upon the writings of Mr. J. Maarten Troost and his travel book, Getting Stoned With The Savages. It seems that Mr. Troost gave up his Washington D.C. lifestyle, World Bank employment, and dress shoes to move to the South Pacific and become a “flip-flop man.” This move took him to the 83 islands of Vanuatu and his humorous adventures of discovery that he had relocated to an island on the Pacific Ring of Fire, including the world’s most active volcano, daily earthquakes, largest number of fatal shark attacks, alternating seasons of cyclones and mosquito attacks, and the last known cannibals. Needless to say, it wasn’t quite the idyllic island life that he had imagined.

One of the more confusing things that Maarten encountered was an active hostility between two island factions that had lasted hundreds of years. The native islanders seemed to be divided into two groups that continually fought. These two clans called themselves the Big Nambas and the Small Nambas, and to Maarten’s eye they looked exactly alike. How did they even know who was a Big Namba and who was a Small Namba, he had wondered?

The mystery started to unravel when Maarten learned that “namba” simply meant leaf. However, it was a specific leaf that the native men tie to the end of their penis and hangs between their legs to protect “the family jewels” as the men walk through the jungle. In an almost unbelievable attitude of male machismo, the Big Nambas prefer a big leaf as it may make their “equipment” look larger; while the Small Nambas perhaps believe that it is more manly to offer the occasional view of their “baggage” (sort of like your Uncle Ernie hanging out at the pool when you suddenly realise that he has spread his legs apart and there is nothing under his swim shorts but… Uncle Ernie).

Actually, as hot and humid as it is in some climes, this “dress your penis in a leaf” idea makes some sense to me. But the funny part is that they are using the size of the leaf as a source of conflict between them. It’s not as if the boys are fighting about the comparative size of their manhood, which is silly enough. No, this is about the size of the damn leaf!

Namba Gear Named From Vanuatu Tribes

Now, picture me on the airplane reading this story for the first time. Yes, I was laughing out loud as I read about the usage of the namba leaf. So in the spirit of male name-your-Johnson-silliness, and figuring what better way to illustrate the protective nature of our products, we have named our company after the Ni-Vanuatu Namba tribes. Our decorative logo incorporates a face on a leaf, and we will soon be releasing the Big Namba Studio Backpack and the Small Namba Laptop DJ Backpack. Both will hold a “big package” but in a compact manner (sorry, I had to go there). So you can decide for yourself if you need a Big Namba Backpack or a Small Namba Backpack as each has its advantages. And please… no fighting about the size.



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