Parenting: Why Are Some Nigerian Parents Obsessed With Foreign Names?
Just as our native dialects are slowly ebbing away with each new year, so also our indigenous Nigerian names are disappearing into the wind like a mosquito’s fart.
Go to any nursery or primary school in Nigeria and listen to the teacher calling out the pupils’ names. You’d think you have miraculously dropped into another country when you begin to hear the assortment of foreign names.
Our celebrities are not left out – in fact, it seems they’re the flag bearers of this disturbing trend.
For instance, multi award winning singer, Tuface Idibia’s daughters are named Isabella and Olivia. Peter Okoye of the defunct P-Square duo named his son, Cameron and his daughter, Aliona.
While fast rising filmmaker, Oluseyi Asurf named his first son, Culbert and the second one, Othniel. We are yet to decipher the origin or meaning of both names as at when this article was being written.
These are just a few examples. In reality, there are millions of Nigerian children going around with names that do not in any way reflect their cultural heritage. Could it be that new generation parents feel that these foreign names are more “sophisticated” or ''sweet'' to the ears compared to our indigenous names?
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The irony of this is that there are international celebrities who have chosen to identify with their African roots with the names they bear.
An example is Empire star, Taraji P. Henson whose first name is of African origin. Taraji means “Hope” or “Faith” in Swahili. Also, singer/actress, Ashanti Douglas, was named after the Ashanti Empire in Ghana, which her mother greatly admired. Nigerian-American actress, Uzo Adibua, did not attempt to ‘funkify’ or ‘tush up’ her name even though she works in Hollywood, which is the biggest entertainment industry in the world.
Why then are we, who were born, raised and live in our homeland not proud to bear our names like badges of honour? Why are we more interested in how exotic or unique our children’s names sound, rather than their meanings and how they portray our heritage?
Are we ashamed of our origin, or are we just desperate to fit in with the rest of the world?