Today, I’d like to discuss something & it is to do with this matter of names. Our children’s names in particular.
I’m not trying to be controversial and my intention is not to rub anyone up the wrong way. I’m just sharing my thoughts.
Both my children have what some might call ‘traditional names’. My first child has an Ogori name. My husband is from Kogi State and although they speak Yoruba & bear Yoruba names they (or shall I say we since I’m now an Ogori wife) actually have their own language and names. My first daughter is Osikeyemo. The Yoruba translation for this is Oluwashikemi. I’ve always loved the name Shikemi but fell in love with Osikeyemo as soon as my mother-in-law gave me the Ogori translation. My second daughter is Kayinoluwalogo. Her Ogori name is Osinina (Yoruba translation is Eyitoluwafe).
My husband and are I not traditionalists, far from it. However, in the early stages of our relationship I made it clear to him that I didn’t want my children to bear any English names. He also shared the same desire. I don’t have any particular reason for this and have nothing against English names but I’ve always just loved Nigerian names. I love the way our names have meanings and the way they sound. Ori mi ma n wu (my head swells) whenever my full name is pronounced (properly ooo).
My mum gave my girls beautiful biblical names, Shekinah & Shiloh which I also love but she’s the only one who calls them by those names.
Our daughters’ names are our choices. We chose them carefully, prayed over them and love those names. So why am I writing this?
Keyemo was around 6 months old when I went to a party and someone asked me her name, I boldly told the person her name. She then immediately retorted, ‘anh anh ewo lon je Keyemo?’ – meaning what kind of name is Keyemo?’.
I again repeated it, KEYEMO, and told her it was an Ogori name. This woman then had the doggone cheek to tell me I shouldn’t have named my daughter that. That even if I wanted to give her a Nigerian name I should have given her a Yoruba name. It didn’t stop there o! She said being in the UK, it would have been better for me to give her an English name so that ‘Oyinbo’ people will be able to pronounce it!
I was left dumbfounded! I wish I could say I gave it back to her real good but I think I just muttered something and left her. It was only after that I replayed all the responses I could have given her.
I’ve had countless other encounters with people on this name matter. Sadly, it’s always ‘our people’ that have negative feelings about me giving MY children a name in MY language.
I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and I would be naive to believe everyone shares my values. Some of you might agree with what this woman said, some might completely disagree.
I have a friend who really wanted to give her child a Yoruba 1st name but felt that people might not be able to pronounce it and the child might get bullied in school. She chose an English name.
What are your thoughts? What influenced your decision on the name you gave your child?
If you’ve given your child/children Yoruba names, have they encountered any bullying or discrimination because of their name? Those in Nigeria might not have this problem but even my Naija peeps living in Nigeria don’t name their kids traditional names anymore. Is this a personal preference or do you deep down feel your child might have better chances in life if they have English names?
Again, let me reiterate this post is not to bash anyone who gave their children English names. It’s my personal choice to give mine Ogori and Yoruba names as should yours.