"Oh you had your baby, congratulations", they said. "So what are you going to call him?"
"Oluseun"- answered she
"Wow, what a nice name!, so what is his Christian name?"
"Oluwaseun is a Christian name, it means 'Thank God' "
"Okay, so what is his English name?"
"What is your Yoruba name?"
The above conversation was held between my mother and her classmates at university in London, in the late seventies when my brother was born.
I don't have an English name. That bothers some people. As a child it bothered me as well. For some weird reason, I loved the name Victoria, and always wanted to be called that. But over the years, I have come to appreciate my mother's fierce belief in the fact that having an English name is no prerequisite to being Christian, or necessary in fact. Her stand is ironic given the fact that her first name is English, her having been born Anglican.
I love the fact the everytime my name is called(the original version, not the bastardised version my Oyinbo colleagues call everyday at work, mind) it means something. I love the fact that my name and the names of my siblings tell a story. I love the fact that my middle name was passed down from my grand mother, and that both set of grandparents wanted me to have that name, I feel like I have the name by destiny. I know that I will pass that name on to my daughter and make sure that she has the name of her greatgrandmother, a strong woman. I love the uniqueness of my name. I love the fact that I don't have an English name.
Have a great weekend.
** This post was inspired by the first paragraph of this article about Chinua Achebe, who once again has proved that gold will always shine through, no matter what. Congratulations to Chinua Achebe on his win, as well as to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose wonderful books have kept me glued on many recent evenings. May the spirit of the ancient storytellers live long!!!!