I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and the topic of our children’s names came up.
My friend, Tomi* (the asterisk just highlights that it’s not a real name, although I have a few friends called Tomi. (No, sweetie, not you, well since I haven’t spoken to you in yonks)
Anyway, so Tomi’s kids have two names they use regularly (you know us Nigerians have an average of 10 names given to us when we’re born). English names for school and their African names for when they’re at home. As her kids got older, they asked their parents if they could just use their English names all the time and they agreed. Apparently, she gets judged often. People approach her to give their opinion on what names her kids should use. And she’s like, why would I force them to stick to a name they can’t relate to. As long as they stick to their last names, I’m happy.
We were in Spain with the kids earlier this year and we met a Nigerian man, with his English wife and beautiful kids. He introduced his kids by their Yoruba names and then added,
“You know we have to keep the culture with their names,” then he laughed. I paraphrase but you know what I mean. Without batting an eyelid, we proceeded to introduce our kids, Sophia and Joanna. Was I tempted to say their Yoruba middle names instead, you betcha, but knowing kids, there was no way we were going to get away with it. The next day I was chatting with his daughter and I called her by her Yoruba name.
“That’s just my middle name,” she said, waving her hand in a dismissive manner. “Call me (insert English name here).
My jaw dropped to the floor.
You know what? Whatever you decide to call yourself or your kids is your business and no one has the right to make you feel guilty about your choice. Like my friend, Tomi said, “I don’t give anyone the permission to make me feel bad about myself.”
Spoiler Alert, I’m back to talking about me now.
As a child I hated my name. I asked my mom if I could change it and she said yes, on the condition that I chose the name I wanted. I skipped away happily and started working on my future moniker but nothing was good enough. So in a true “paralysis by analysis” fashion, I gave up.
When I decided to write my book, my husband and I came up with the perfect Alias but now I’ve decided to just go ahead with my name, regardless of privacy issues or genre and the reason is this. I am the only Bolaji Eyo in the world, at least according to Google. This is my opportunity to glorify the name. I hope I can do the name proud.
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