Since the beginning of Fon Handcrafted Candles people have asked, “what does Fon mean?” Before thinking of Fon, coming up with a name for my candle company was becoming a task. As I toiled with name after name, consulting with friends and family, using my last name, and my maternal grandmother’s name, I felt like the names weren’t reflecting me or who I am. I finally decided to let go. To let a name come to me. And it did. I woke up one morning thinking about my first name and reminisced about how my family would call me Foni, short for my name, Tiffoni. I was Foni. From that came Fon. I didn’t tell anyone what I had decided. I consulted with myself and it felt good. I felt sure of this. It rolled off my tongue and it came from my name, which is the name I was given because of my mom’s fondness of the name Tiffany and her desire to be different. Fon. Ingredients.
After I started creating logos and getting labels printed, I told some friends and one asked if I named my candles after the Fon people of Africa. What? No, I named the candles after myself...
Upon some research I in fact did find that Fon IS the name of a people in Africa. Fon, originally called the Kingdom of Dahomey, were thriving in what is present day South Benin and Togo from 1600 to about 1894. Diving further into the history of the Fon people I saw how deep this name truly goes in African history. For the fact that they held this kingdom down for over 200 years, had an agricultural economy (also conquered some other economies), their own language, a royal city called Abhomey, and that they protected this and kept it going with their own culture and beliefs is powerful when I remember what I was taught in American history class growing up.
This kingdom had some serious protection, especially for the king. They had a female warrior army called Mino, or “our mother”, in the Fon language. These women trained vigorously to protect the kingdom and they succeeded for years through many failed attempts of invasion until they were colonized by the French in 1894.
From the coast of West Africa many of the people were sold by the Kingdom of Dahomey into slavery for the Europeans. My heart dropped to learn this. But it is what it is. It made me face the duality of life once again. No one is perfect and there are reasons for everything.
Most of the Fon people were put to work in Haiti, which is where my paternal grandmother’s family originates. That fact blew my mind because my Dad’s heritage traces back to Benin. Whoa.
It felt strange to just now learn about these people of Africa at this point in life. What I had been learning in American history class didn’t tell the whole story of the people that built the country. Yes, many Africans were slaves, but way way way before that we were so much more. It’s up to us now to learn and to teach our children the whole story.
Reading this I felt a sense of pride in women and in being a woman. We are strong and when given the opportunity, can learn, master, and excel in whatever we do. Today, I see the strength of black people and even with that I know there is still a lot to learn about our history, favorable and otherwise, in order to manifest our true power.
I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe everything happens for a reason. As I continue on in this school of life I choose to take lessons from all my experiences. Learning to make candles has been an experience in itself and has led to my learning and hopefully teaching others about a magnificent part of African history.
Quieting my mind and listening to my first mind has been a key factor in this push for Fon candles. There is a purpose behind it all. From the quality of the natural candles, to the nature fragrances, to the universal values that drive their presentation, Fon has meaning that is yet to be revealed.