Collingwood star Harry O’Brien is now known as Heritier Lumumba after the dashing defender reverted to his birth name.
Lumumba has made the decision to honour his Congolese heritage and reclaim the name of his biological father, in place of his anglicised Christian name and the surname he adopted from his step-father at the age of nine.
The 2010 premiership star says the connection he has made with his African heritage has been an “empowering” experience, and has outlined the traditional significance of the Heritier Lumumba name.
“The name Heritier means the inheritor or the heir. The inheritor is the inheritor of the Lumumba name, and the name is a very famous one in Africa, in particular the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Lumumba explained.
“It is a bit stronger than Harry O’Brien. It’s Heritier Lumumba and it has always resonated with me.”
Lumumba says that the name change is indictive of an effort he is making to reconnect with his heritage.
“Moving forward over the next phase of my life I would like to be as truthful to myself as I can, and also to get it back to where it all started for me,” he said.
Lumumba has recently released a book entitled ‘It’s Cool to be Conscious’ which tells stories of his upbringing and off-field struggles, and says that these experiences played a major role in the decision to reclaim his birth name.
“Through the process of writing the book it was something that came up, and I had initially underestimated the impact that (changing his name to Harry O’Brien) had had on my life,” he said.
Lumumba says the change has been well received by his teammates.
“They are really happy for me,” he said.
“They are already using my last name, Lumumba, and they are having a lot of fun with it.”