Your daughter’s name is ‘Nigeria’? – Deleola Daramola

September 12, 2013

Arts & Culture

Since my relocation to the USA, I have just one thing that attracts my curiosity more than anything. Yes, not the organized culture, nor the structural engineering. I mean, not even some of their different life-styles (gayism, trans-gendering, sexually-implicit mode of dressing etc). 

 
So what is it that catches my fancy and curiosity? Their names, yes; names of many Americans that I have encountered at school and work can be very beautiful and cute, some funny while some, weirdly astonishing! Just last weekend, I met someone whose name is embarrassingly weird.
 
Peculiarly strange is when a name is in English language and yet, I do wonder why the meaning would not have bearing while choosing what befits a new born baby? I have met ‘Mr Stone’. We all know the Bush’s family by now, I still wonder what the rationale is in a name like ‘Ms Snake’. Was her family snake related? Oh! May be from her looks at birth? Mr Dick, (imagine that!) Miss Fire, Woods, Rivers, Bikes, Flowers, Lorry, Car, Blood, Boy, Cat, Apple, Candy and so on are few unusual names that I have met on my daily sojourn in America.
 
Even some were vocational; ‘Hunter’, ‘Carpenter’, ‘Plumber’, ‘Tailor’ Porter, Shoemaker, Smith, Chandler etc.
 
But, true, some are opposite in English language meaning just as it is weird. I know of ‘Mrs Virgin’ who as I learnt, has 7 seven children from seven different men.  Or how would anybody’s name be ‘Devil’? As much as I do not want to do anything with Mr. Devil, a colleague at work once told me he’d rather have ‘Devil’ as a name than be ‘Mr Satan’ (what’s da difference, hen?). I have since found him to be the coolest dude to friend with. The irony is while Mike Devil is a colleague, Ms Shan ‘Jesus’ our boss, who you would expect to bear the fruits of virtue, is radically nothing but evil and devilish in personality! Because of the contrasts in their names, I could not comprehend a nice fellow to be called Devil, so I devised a way of just calling him ‘Mr Dee’ and that’s cool with him. I relate with him better without having to unconsciously see him as Devil. Same with ‘Ms Jesus’, I call her ‘Ms Jay’, that way I do not have to carry the conflict of seeing her when am praying to God whose injunction is to always ask anything when praying in ‘Jesus name’.
So which name is embarrassingly weird? Wait! People whose names are places and regions are tolerably understandable. There are Mr ‘Wests’, ‘East’, ‘North’ and ‘South’ and recently, Kim Kardasian and Kanye West made theirs a combo on the internet when they named their daughter ‘North’, which will make Kanye’s little girl Miss North West’!
Most of us reading this would have encountered names like ‘India’, Brazil, Melbourne and more popular, among the African Americans; ‘Kenya’, ‘Zim’ (babwe), right? 
 
Last weekend, at a function, I met the most embarrassing weird name of my life!
 
“Hi, my name is Fayth”
 
“I am Cynthia and please meet my husband Darius…that’s my daughter; she’s Nigeria”
 
“Hun? Sorry! Your daughter’s name…”
 
All three (Mum, dad and daughter) chorused in high spirits
 
“Nigeriaaa”
 
I was blank. One million questions hammering my brain, rendering me tongue twisted.
 
“Noo, oh…o…noo…! 
 
“that’s a beautiful name and it is…”
 
“I am a Nigerian and I…”
 
“Really? We wish we are Nigerians from Nigeria, living in …”
 
“No, you don’t wish you’re Nigerians”
 
“Yes, we do”!
 
“So, how come you guys named her Nigeria, of all places, of all races, of all… hen”?
 
“Oh, kay…! I will like to tell you…”
 
***To be continued..

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2013.  5:45 p.m. [GMT]

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4 Comments on “Your daughter’s name is ‘Nigeria’? – Deleola Daramola”

  1. Layi Says:

    Naming of children based around the circumstances of the birth is limited only to Yoruba or Nigeria, but is common all over Africa. In some African countries children are named according to the day of the week when a child was born, or based on certain trees, for example, Miss Araba, Mr. Iroko, etc.

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Doctor,

      Thanks for contributing to this, especially the fact about children’s names in other parts of Africa. I did not know; thought all Africans – barring religious beliefs – are mostly like the Yoruba. It would be great to hear from others on this topic.

      Sincere regards,
      TOLA.

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  2. Fatai Bakare Says:

    Okay, let’s wait till Mr Fayth Daramola lands. However, I am proud to be a Nigerian and more so from the South Western part of the country where it is often said ”ile laa wo ka to s’omo l’oruko” {we name a child after looking at the circumstances around his birth). This is just to say that our indigenous names carry meaningful applications when we look at the happenings around the child’s birth or try to express our wish by naming him thus. ‘Daramola’ can be given two meanings depending on how it is pronounced. One can be taken to imply a child born around when the parents are prosperous or wealthy and two, can be taken as as being mixed with wealth or prosperity. ‘Ayodele’ is joy reaches home.

    We also have names after deities like Ogun (god of iron), Sango (god of thunder) and so on to show the connection of the families to the deities. We even give names to children to show our gratitude and thanks to deities and God Almighty.

    All the examples of the foreign names cited by Fayth do not connote any real meaning. I feel they do not give a damn to the meaning of a name. After all, what is in a name? So goes the saying. Just give a name that comes to their mind at the birth of the child. Also, they may give the name after something they cherish or like, their hero or heroin or their celebrities.

    Giving names to people after a place, town or country is not alien to us in Nigeria. The names may just be after a place where the child is born or where the parents are staying or working as at the time of her birth. It may also be a form of nickname. In line with this latter part, my daughter was nicknamed ‘Iya Oyan’ because she was born when her mother was working in a town called Oyan in Osun State. To name a child after a town is very common among the Hausas of Nigeria. Alhaji Aminu Kano, Alhaji Sokoto and so on. Some Nupe tribes living around my area when I was young named one of their children Osogbo when he was born.

    Well, there is beauty in a name when it shows positive meaning, reflection and feeling. I belief the couple who named their daughter Nigeria has positive reflections about Nigeria otherwise they would not named her so. Though, the way some negligible few are portraying Nigeria leaves a sour taste in the mouth. However, those of us who believe positively in the project Nigeria should not be deterred. It’s just a matter of time for the country to bounce back to glory.

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Fatai,

      Thanks for this in-depth look at how Yoruba name their kids. It should help many understand the culture a little better. I like Dele’s write-up as it has opened
      a window into this subject.

      One of my nieces-in-law has a name Ọṣun, the name of Oṣogbo’s famous river and festival. I think most African societies put a lot of stock – and imagination – into naming their kids but Westerners, especially, do not really care about such. I prefer and LOVE the Yoruba way. The Ibo of Nigeria and most others except, perhaps the Moslems in Northern Nigeria also give names with meanings and relevance to their circumstances and those of the babies to be named.

      A troubling trend in Yorubaland sees those who are uneducated Moslems – at least those I come across – not wanting their kids bear any other names but Moslem names. “Abdullahi/Abdulfatai/Jamiu … is my orukọ amutọrun wa – my Yoruba name”! whenever I say, “Mercy is my baptismal name but that is not my Yoruba name”. I think the radicalization of young people, especially the uneducated by imported religious extremism is eroding Yoruba culture.

      Regards,
      TOLA.

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