Most of us did not get a chance to choose our names.
We all got what our parents decided was fitting for us at the moment of birth. In Africa names sometimes depend on circumstances surrounding the birth of a child, some of us are named after mentors or people our parents admired or in Praise of God.
In the end, it is still just a name, what you are called, what you accept to answer to. If you do not like the name your parents chose for you when you become an adult you can change it.
One of the effects of colonization that is still glaring to us today is in our names. There are many Nigerians who have only English names, others have one name in their language and another in English. As a Catholic, I have a baptismal name and I took another one for confirmation, of course. Both are foreign names. (there are Catholics who insist on using names in their language and it is perfectly fine)
I was at a press thing some time ago when a middle-aged man asked me what my name is. “Lucia” I answered. He smiled and said, “ok, but what is your real name?” I did not know reality was now social media where people have real names and fake names. “Lucia” I told him again.
This wasn’t satisfactory for him, and he even got upset. “All these children of nowadays, throwing away our culture, how can you say your name is Lucia? Is that what your parents named you? Do they even know you answer that name? you people want to be white by all means ehn!” He went on for some more seconds while I just stared at him.
When he was done I told him my ‘native’ name is Eguonoroghene, I said it really fast because the man had almost annoyed me with his rant.
“Ehn? You said?” he asked me, “Eguonoroghene” I repeated.
“Err I will just call you Lucia then” he said this time very quietly.
Eguonoroghene is a very popular Urhobo name. It loosely translates to God’s love. I admit I added the oghene to the name to throw the man off, because everyone, before I moved to Lagos, just called me Eguono. It was not until I left Warri that I realized my name is difficult for people to pronounce. Because I didn’t have the strength to teach people how to pronounce my name, i decided to just say -Lucia.
Yes, they are some names that will make us raise our eyebrows but if a person says that is his/her name, please call them just that unless you are buddies and have the privilege to ask more questions.
If they tell you a ‘difficult’ name ask them to teach you how to pronounce it. If it sounds ‘one kind’ don’t make fun of it. Fellow Nigerians, I am just here to say call people by the names they give you and respect other people’s names.
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