It took 47 years, but yesterday Oprah Winfrey finally decided on a name for the premature baby she gave birth to at age 14: Canaan.
During a stop on the business mogul’s “An Evening with Oprah Winfrey” tour in Melbourne, Australia yesterday, December 2, the former talk show host and business tycoon told an audience the name and how she came to decide on it.
“I did an interview with a reporter before I came to Australia and she said you should name the baby son who died,” Winfrey announced to attendees of the event. “So I have named him, I had a little boy named Canaan.”
The declaration looks like it represents growth towards the acceptance and release of the shame associated with her traumatic childhood.
“I did have a son and I named him Canaan because Canaan means new land, new life,” she said.
The media mogul also talked intimately about the circumstances that led to the pregnancy and the feelings she had around the time she was forced to carry a baby to term at such a young age.
“I was raped at nine years old by a cousin, then again by another family member, and another family member,” news.com.au reports she said, before adding that she tried to conceal her growing baby bump because of the “pain and shame” she felt.
The baby eventually died and remained a secret until 1990 when a family member made the news public. Following that unauthorized leak, Winfrey said she was concerned the news would impact her career negatively.
“I took to my bed and cried for three days,” she wrote in a February 2007 issue of O! The Oprah Magazine. “I felt devastated. Wounded. Betrayed. How could this person do this to me?”
She added, “I imagined that every person on the street was going to point their finger at me and scream, ‘Pregnant at 14, you wicked girl … expelled!’ [But] I soon realized that having the secret out was liberating. What I learned for sure was that holding the shame was the greatest burden of all.”
So wonderful to learn that not only is she freed from the burden of that secret but she may have gotten some closure or at least greater acceptance of her past by coming up with a name at last.
How triumphant it is!