What is in a name?
Plenty… or maybe nothing sef.
It all depends on who is asking, who is calling and what residual sentiments you have towards that name…
Wahala: (noun) trouble or problem.
In a class in my mum’s school a couple of decades ago, a little boy named Julius sat at the back of the class. When the attendance register was called every morning, he would scowl at the mention of his name, then look back down at his desk and continue with the day’s task.
Day in, day out throughout his first couple of weeks in the school, he was always visibly upset whenever his name was called and then one morning, it was roll call time as usual.
The teacher picked up the attendance register and ran down the long list of names. His was towards the end of the list and as the teacher approached the “W”s, he tensed…
Teacher: Julius Wahala
Boy: You Wahala
Boy: You Wahala
Teacher: No, your name is wahala.
Boy: It is your name that is wahala.
So, the calvary had to be called in to sit the poor young man down and explain to him as nicely as possible that yes, his surname was Wahala, the teacher was not just trying to “sub” him.
Perhaps there is more than one lesson in this particular story: call your children by their names and explain what those names mean to them. Do not leave that task to their poor teachers especially when you have a “onekaintious” surname.
Okolie – many variants of this name, usually conotes a strong man born on the “Orie” market day.
In secondary school, “bullying” was vieweď more as a sport then a sign of ill breeding.
These big bad wolves and wolvettes would corner one small wimp and proceed to put the hapless young man or woman through the hoops.
All for fun.
Of course one person does not think it is fun, but bullying is not a sport intended to make the victim feel any better, it is like the Christians thrown into the lion’s den – they were meant to entertain and not supposed to derive any form of entertainment from the process.
So on this day, a group of senior girls found me lounging around somewhere and thought, “oh, let’s have some fun at this small rat’s expense”.
I was called into the courtyard, they formed a circle around me and began to sing and clap. My simple task, was to dance.
Well, maybe not so simple, but I love to dance sha.
So, they started clapping to rhythm and me, thinking I had gotten off lightly this time around, danced along with them:
“Viola, o l’oko l’ori; viola, o l’oko l’ori”.
Come and see me dancing. Too relieved to have gotten off lightly this time around, I contorted, I swayed. I mixed atilogwu with break dance. I added a little bit of moonwalking with small acrobatics. Just small o, I didn’t want to overdo it and break my neck.
I was having fun and wondering why these wicked seniors were in a good mood today. This one no be punishment na… haba… kimmon… lessgodia…oya…
“Viola, o l’oko l’ori…”
And so I danced o, even as a crowd began to gather, laughing along in what I thought was admiration of my dance steps.
“Viola, o l’oko l’ori…”
Until a kind friend pulled me aside, and explained to me nicely, that that was a denigration of my surname.
The seniors were singing: Viola, the one who has a penis on her head.
I never knew.
I was depressed for a few days, true.
Recently, a couple of years ago, I met up with someone who was an ex Bakorian. We had a lunch date at the posh Copa Cabana resaurant in Abuja with a bunch of other ladies from an online group. And of alllllll the things the clod had to remember about our days in secondary school, it was that incident.
As she sang that song once again, I went down memory lane. My eyes narrowed and I shot daggers at her as her slow brain finally kicked in that she was an adult behaving like a thirteen year old a**hole. As she slowly wound down her stupid song, I stood up and found another seat, as far away from her as humanly possible.
Every time I looked up and met her eyes, my skin crawled.
She spoilt that day for me and it was made even worse by the fact that I could not slap her eyes out there and then.
Not even one small, chinkini, slap?
My experience with pets and names?
People tend to name their pets after those they either admire, or who embody qualities they catch glimpses of in their loved pets.
In the history of Nigeria and their love for international and local politics and football, we have had pets called Obama, Clinton, George Bush, Pele, Ronaldo, Kanu, Jayjay…
The list is endless but one thing to be said though, I am yet to see anyone who has been arrested and jailed for daring to name the family pet after the President of the United States…
Maybe our love for pets can not equal that of the West where pets are actually considered part of the family and take on the family names. It is therefore not unusual to hear that Cecilia Brown is actually a cat which belongs to the “Brown” family; or that Thomas J. Pompadour the 3rd is NOT the grandson of the Pompadour patriarch, but actually a little French poodle with a pedigree longer than the padded 2016 budget.
In saner climes and even in insane climes like our dearly beloved country – don’t pretend we don’t all have a little touch of skoin-skoin here – people spend money on their pets. Even those who cannot afford the expensive, canned foods still spend money to keep their dogs on a “special diet”.
But it is not all lovey dovey sha…
In this same country, a little imp whose only claim to fame is the ownership of a Twitter account from which he tweets the contents of his near empty mind, once made his intention to purchase two pigs, known to his acolytes.
He would name one “Goodluck”, and the other “Jonathan”.
The then president of the country who coincidentally is known by the name “Goodluck Jonathan”, smiled it off and was even rumoured to have invited the imp to a dinner, an invitation which he classlessly turned down and trumpeted his turning down of it on his Twitter page, as if medals were being shared out to people who could show with evidence, that they had no common sense.
A wily old politician from Owu Kingdom also recently searched his brain for a befitting gift for the wildlife sanctuary, and decided to make a song and dance of his donation of a chimpanzee he chose to call “Patience”.
Perhaps he thought he was being a sly fox, but today’s children of the internet are not smiling.
Within an hour of his donation, arguments were rife over if that was one of his offspring he was donating, or if he was subtly “shading” the former First Lady who coincidentally, he has had a long string of axes to grind with, and who uncannily bears the name Patience.
I had no part in the arguments, I was happy to be a spectator and watch the old man squirm as he struggled to find an explanation.
Or should we also talk about the fact that a gray haired Nobel laureate who should know better, once referred to the then first lady as a “shepopotamus”.
So in all these, perhaps the major difference is that when one President who had the benefit of enlightenment and a PhD and knows that you can call your dog “Einstein”, it doesn’t mean the dog is about to crack the Fibonacci sequence or break a skyscraper long code in quantum physics; heard and read about all these pet naming antics, he smiled, shook his head and continued building projects the administration after him could steal and claim was “initiated and completed” by them.
The other President (who shall not be named as there is this thing about me and prison cells that gives me the chills) however, having only a bread label (or NEPA bill) as certification; has left the unimportant issues of a collapsing economy facing recession; hunger and joblessness in the land; religious intolerance claiming lives; fuel prices over the roof and so on and so forth…
And is diligently prosecuting the more urgent matter of a man who chose to name his pet after his dearly beloved President.
What a country!
You know, I am tempted to point out that Madam Bridget Agbahime was beheaded by religious intolerant idiots almost 4 months ago and none of her murderers have been sentenced yet. I am also tempted to just chip in that Mrs. Eunice Olawale’s blood spilt in Kubwa is still crying out for justice…
What is the point?
I need to buy me a pet. Three or four…
If you know of any good names, please feel free to suggest them to me.
Because I solemnly declare, that I am up to no good!