4 Apr

When a Chinese says to you, “I am called John Smith.” You raise your eyebrows in disbelief and tell him: “Oh, that’s weird, I thought you had a Chinese name like Xi Chan.”

When an Indian tells you, “My name is Raphael Gonzales.” You freeze and retort that: “Oh, I thought you had an Indian name like Rajiv Amrapali.”
When an Arab says to you: “My name is Maurice Le Baron.” You get stunned and tell him: “Oh yeah! I thought you’ll say I expected to hear something like Mamoud Al Abdullah?”.

But when an African tells you: “I’m Paul Green Stew,” You find it more than very okay and normal. In contrast if he said: “My name is  Pishong-Akeh Alah’pifoo.” You will find it abnormal, tongue twisting and with a sigh of annoyance and bewilderment, you will retort: ” iiissshhh! In fact, don’t you have another name? A more common first name? An English name, A christian name or something easier and pleasant?”

Who among you here can deny that this hasn’t happened to them or they haven’t thought or done so to others?

Ever wondered how culturally poor and insane we all are? When we in our homes call our children ”Mac Brown” and speak to them in pure English, French or which ever foreign tongue, we are not doing our cultural legacy any good or justice. No wonder we are the laughing stock and entertainers of the world! When will we stop this cycle? If in the days of cultural emancipation and national independence we are still voluntarily giving our children names that our own parents and theirs were beaten and forced to adopt as trademarks of colonialism and religion, then something is seriously wrong with our sense of cultural identification? It is funny how some of us today carry double foreign names with one or no other culturally revealing name.

Globalization for many of us has meant giving up our own cultural values and foundations of identification in preference for those of others. When we are unable to export our own ethno-linguistic attributes to these foreign lands, then that globalization becomes hegemonic and extirpating. A win-win globalization means multicultural familiarity across geo-ethnic boundaries. The rationale behind giving tourists and visitors souvenirs of our culture such as names, titles and clothing representing their respective cultures and communities is because we want them in turn to be our ambassadors and heralds when  they return to their communities.

 So much of oral history is being lost because the youth are speaking in a language that the elderly can not comprehend. Our grand parents are failing to connect with their grand children because the latter  understands only one language which is absolutely out their parental language family cluster. Worsening this further is economic pressures on parents that causes them to spend greater family time at work and return home tired out and stuck with the language of the work place leaving their children at the mercy of the community lingua franca.

 It is common to hear or see a great many folks ashamed or specifically ask a kin not to be call or speak to them their mother tongue or be addressed by their real name while in public. What are we ashamed of? Whether we like it or not, our children will become members of society and will at avenues such as at school, in worship, at markets, in social groups and clubs shall learn every other official or national language. so the only true cultural identity and heritage you can bequeath them is your mother tongue and a name.

I have seen people tremble and sweat in confusion when an application form is given to them to fill, usually the name section is the last thing they will fill in, to which one will recite to them what is the difference between “Name”, “Middle Name” and “Surname”! I wish all that was asked on those forms was simply ‘Name’! Cultural inferiority and primitive self complex may be! It’s okay to speak your ethnic tongue and bear an etymological name, as long as it doesn’t become a reason or excuse for you to witness or serve prejudice to and from others.

We are quick to  to complain about us being discriminated against and also for  our ranking last within the concert of nationalities, when we ourselves have decided to be followers, not leaders of our cultural destinies. So I ask again arr our names cultural brands tagged on us like trademarks on goods in a shop or are we a culturally independent and social interdependent entity? Decolonize and emancipate yourselves from ethno-religious and cultural colonialism.

By Nwanatifu Nwaco

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