Name. Name. Name. Name.
Ever so often I meet people whose names correspond with attributes and characters I see play out in their lives.
Here in Nigeria, we have beautiful names-you have a guy whose parents christened him “Smart” lead the class, a lady called “Adun” whose life is all sweets but ever so often I also meet the opposites. I’ve had a friend called “Godsent” act like the devils right hand man, seen Thomases that don’t doubt and Chris’s that are anything but Christian.
December 2014, during my pediatrics posting at University College Hospital, Ibadan, I interviewed woman whose five day old baby girl was terribly sick- she had jaundice. What’s special about this disease isthe baby has to be admitted, treated and closely watched or else, the baby’s brain would be irreversibly damaged. The mother cared a lot for her child but was also bothered about something else; she asked would my baby be available for her naming ceremony tomorrow?
I was surprised then but now I understand, that the jaundice of a little five day old baby did not only have a medical implication but a social one. Sadly, we would not discharge her baby before the seventh-day naming ceremony and the baby would remain nameless.
Today my experience with this mother strolled by my thoughts and I asked my inner Plato a question “What makes naming so important that we, as a society, dedicate time, resources, create elaborate programs for, we leave jobs and other responsibilities to gather, eat, laugh and celebrate for.
What’s in a name?
Then my inner thinker answered( I named him Mogbadebo, don’t ask why😀)
Think about the last time you had to describe someone to a friend without a name. "Oh, That tall guy with a birthmark on his left earlobe came by the room today" you might have said or could it have been when the “lady who always wears a stinky wig” sent her regards.
Adjective. Nouns. Whatever.
They are 'descriptors’, names we have for a certain character or attribute the guy/lady possesses. Forms of identifiers. Now let’s time-travel-skype back to the minutes, days, months?? it took to get your name. You might be suprised with what you’d find.
“Behind every name is a reason.
And that reason is not yours.”
For me though, not so surprising, I am the second boy of a set of a twin and in my quarter of the Nigeria, you are named “Kehinde”. And so I today, I introduce myself as Kehinde. My name is a name because I happened to have crawled out from a womb thirty minutes after another baby did. Rich? Right.
You’d notice that a name is one of the very first "descriptors/identifiers" given to us. We have names given because of parents experiences, how we were given birth to, the day you were born, in remembrance of a relative or someone important to your parents or some vague reason that seemed profound then to your parents.
And this is scary,that we are named after happenings, physical characteristics, other people. Named without any deep understanding of the colours of our personalities or unique interests. Scared that we drag these poor descriptors along with us throughout life.
Our parents did not have much choice really, but can you flow with me a bit more on this?
This is the crux of my rant.
Behind every name is a reason.
And that reason is not yours.
Some are easy to find out. Others are not so easy.
In learning more what or who described you, your names are one of your strongest but most silent allies.
So the question is.