To start, please take some time to think about these persons when you read their names: T. B. Joshua, Agbani Darego, Mary Slessor, Sani Abacha, Ameyo Adadevoh, Allen Onyema.
So what were the first things that came to your mind? What was it about them that you recalled?
When a person’s name is mentioned, we associate things with them. It is way more than that what the person looked/looks like. We think of what the person did and what they stood/stands for. That is exactly what a name is.
What is a name?
A person’s name is synonymous with their reputation. A name is what a person is known by, and reputation is what that person is known for. Most times, they can be used interchangeably. And this is okay.
A name represents a person, their life, and who they are. It speaks of the work they do and how well or bad they do it. When people think of your name, they think of your reputation. So the question now is, “What sort of reputation are you giving yourself? What do others think when they hear your name?”
People we meet everyday form opinions of us and these opinions are based on our interactions with them. All the attitude, words, and personality we leave with them, help them form these opinions. Our interaction with people, overall, influences their decision to want to meet us again or not.
Let me clear a common misconception at this point. Reputation is quite different from first impressions. Where first impressions may stick for a while, they can be modified or corrected. Reputation, on the other hand, is born out of a person’s consistent and repeated behavior over a long period of time. It is strong and can not be erased.
A good name or a bad name?
A good name is demonstrating integrity that people can see and depend on. It includes, but is not limited to returning items you borrowed, fulfilling promises you made, paying bills, rejecting gains that come from another person’s loss and maintaining just business practices.
Please note that having a good name doesn’t mean that you are perfect. It means that when you make mistakes, you learn from them and do what you can to make things right.
Having a good name requires honorable motives and priorities. It is taking responsibility for your actions and making restitution when you are in the wrong.
Lastly, a good name cannot be bought with money. It has to be earned moment by moment, day by day, decision by decision. Having a good name means living in a way that earns the trust of others. If you are considered trustworthy and kind, you have a good reputation.
What did it mean in the past?
Our forefathers demonstrated a great deal of integrity. Most of the things we now enjoy and have been able to build upon stems from their integrity. Talk about marriage, business, or politics; a person’s social standing was everything. In the past, people found it difficult to make promises, and this is because they need to be sure they would not fail.
So we heard people say things like, “If he says he will do it, then he will do it”. Then a man’s word was as good as his deed. You find that if someone was not sure of achieving success in a certain area or delivering on a job, he won’t give you his words. Also, when a person finds that a venture is not credible, he does not put his name to it. A lot of persons were more concerned about what they will be known for. Good name was more important than a promised salary or promised property.
What does it mean today?
To answer this, the following persons had these to say:
Bola Oyedokun, Student, Lagos,
“Well, a lot has changed now and you cannot really blame anybody. We got stronger and bolder. The people at that time were busy seeking validation from people who didn’t matter. Now, we don’t prove anything to anyone.”
Susan Ifedi, Banker, Abuja
“Good name? What will that do for anybody? Whether you are good or not good in this country, nobody cares. Just make your money and you will fare well. The people who didn’t think you are good will even worship you. Do you think Mercy, the Big Brother girl is a bad person with all the money she won? People will forgive her as soon as she starts doing giveaways.”
Paulo, Mechanic, Nyanya
Sister, I don chop? You should ask me that first. A lot of persons are more concerned about where their next meal will come from and you are talking about good name. Apart from our nationalists, who remember any other person with a ‘good name’?
Dr. Mba, Physician, Karu
The decadence is our society is the root of this problem. Yes, it is a big problem. When the economy of a country can not cater for citizens, the focus shifts from the real things. Things of virtue begin to lose value. When people go out, the only thing they are worried about is how they are going to survive the day. If we are asking people to go back to worrying about good names, then we have to take them away from the gutters.
Joshua Udeh, Businessman, Abuja
It is sad. All the corruption we complain about in this country is stems from this, really. It is sad to see someone readily agree to something he knows he cannot do just because of the money involved. Sometimes, it is not even about the money. They want the limelight. And whether it is for good or not, it doesn’t matter.
Evang. Phillip Shuaibu, Pastor, Jos
Darkness is beginning to take over the world. I tell people this is a sign that the world is coming to an end soon. The Bible abhors liars and cheats, but that’s the path we have chosen to toll as a people. We close our eyes to obvious sins and sugar-coat our wrongdoings.
Chukwuka Edozie, Pensioner, Nyanya
My name is Chukwuka Edozie, I’m 62 years old. Do you know what this means? It means I was born in a time where a man’s word was his bond. When a man my age puts his name to a project, that means he will do everything within his power to make it work. It doesn’t matter where that takes them, or what it takes from them, they will make it work because their name mattered to them. It was about what people know you for. Who would they call when they have a task at hand? Who would they rather not invite because of his past records?
At one time, I feared for the next generation. Now, I’m hopeful. If you can be asking this question, it means our hearts are beginning to turn to our fathers. Not everything in the past is bad, contrary to your beliefs. Discard the bad ones, but not something as divine as being truthful and faithful. These virtues transcend age and time.
Riches vs Good Name
Answer this: If you could receive N60M for doing something that smears your name, would you do it?
That might seem like a dumb question, but in these parts, people choose money over a good name all the time. They lie in order to save some change for house rent, transportation fare, children’s school fees, and the likes. They cheat in order to pass an exam or avoid paying bills. People say they will do one thing, but when they have the opportunity to do something cheaper or more profitable for them, they break their word.
More and more people do not think of “bringing honor to their parents” or “upholding the value of a family name”. They forget or refuse to acknowledge that a good part of their family’s reputation rests on them.
Read also: NIGERIAN CELEBRITY LIFESTYLE SCAM
The truth, however, is that making a name for yourself by being virtuous is not a form of vanity. It is a way to bring honor not only to yourself, but to everything you represent: your family, your job, and your God (considering that we are a very religious people).
A good name is important
The bulk of the people who complain about no call-backs or estranged relationships are people whose reputations did not sit well with companies, employers or family. Just as nobody wants to affiliate with a system that does not work, so too it is with people who can’t be trusted. So even if you are very good at what you do, you will not be invited or involved.
From all that has been said, the virtue of good name is gradually dying in these parts. And this is because of the level of poverty and the inherent difficulties. But I think it is about priorities.
Start by setting your priorities right, if they are out of order. What you set your heart on are the things that influence your motives. You don’t want to trade relationships that would have built you for a fleeting gain. It will never be easy, but consistency can get you there.
Just as gold is tried by fire, so a good name will be tested by accusations and reactions. Names that pass these tests stand strong for generations to come.