Australian artist Mojo Juju has announced she’s changing her name, and will henceforth be known as “Mo’Ju”.
The decision was made out of respect to the West African Yoruba people, for whom “Juju” denotes a traditional spiritual belief system.
The freshly-minted Mo’Ju, whose real name is Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga, explained the thought process surrounding her name change in a lengthy statement, which delves into her recent research into Indigenous languages of both Australia and the world.
After a decade performing under the name Mojo Juju, today I am letting it go and from now on, will be known professionally as Mo’Ju.
For those of you who have been following closely, my legal name is Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga.
The people who know me personally and know me well, will know that I am one who has always had many, many nicknames. Miki, Mooks, Moje, Mo, Juje, Juji and of course Juju.
Nick naming is a very common practice in both Australian and also Filipino culture and so I have always worn my many nicknames with a sense of cultural pride and also personal pride, as I had earned these terms of endearment from people I love and respect.
For around the last 15 years Juje and / or Juju has been the nickname of choice for some of the closest people in my life. And thus, by combining my two names, ‘Mojo Juju’ was born. A name that allowed me to draw upon the strength and support of all my loved ones when I walked onstage.
I have never really been open about why or how this name came to be, as in my early career I had always thought the mystery around it was more interesting than the truth. But we’ve come far since then and I have shared so much of my true self with you all in the last few years.
Words can and often do have many different meanings when we travel to different parts of the world. For example, Mojo – depending on where you are and how you pronounce it – could be a type of sauce, it could simply mean “wet” or it may be a word for a magic charm or a talisman.
“Australia” is actually made up of many Indigenous Nations, with somewhere between 3-400 pre-colonial languages that are known of today.
I’ve been doing some reading and it appears that in the Banuba Country in the Kimberlys, Juju is the word for a particular type of narrative driven dance performance.
In the Kuku-Yalanji language, which is spoken in Far North Queensland / Cape York area, ju-ju is the word for blood.
If you leave this continent and travel all the way to the West Africa, Juju is a word in the Yoruba language which means “to throw”. It is also a genre of music (which I do not play), and lastly but most significantly of all, it is a traditional Spiritual belief system.
Despite my own very personal connection to this word and the many varied meanings that these sounds convey, it is out of respect for this spirituality, it’s divine origins, connections with nature and the Ancestors, and for the people who practice them, that I no longer feel that it is appropriate for me to continue performing under this name.
Mojo will forever remain the name on my driver’s license.
And I have no doubts that I will always be Juje to those who know me personally.
ICYMI: Mo’Ju will be heading overseas to rep for the Aussies at SXSW next month.