Society

Does Name Really Matter?

There’s a time I gave my documents to one of my sisters. Later on, she told me how a particular lady reacted to seeing my name. In the lady’s words “Bulus? What kind of ancient name is this?”

I couldn’t help but laugh, I don’t know what definition of an “ancient name” is but I care less about the name I bear. I know that many people judge others based on the name they bear.

Let my name be ancient, my concern is my personality. After all, I can do what those who don’t have “ancient names” cannot do, I know what those who don’t have “ancient names” know. Even if my name is an “ancient name,” my personality is very sophisticated with the 21st-century mentality, coupled with contemporary ideas.

I believe that whichever part of the world I find myself, my personality will speak for me because I have something to offer. I know that I’m in many ways better than those who don’t have “ancient names.” So, should I care about the name I bear? Definitely no.

By the way, what makes one’s name to be ancient or modern or contemporary? Is it not because it’s pleasant to hear? I wish my name is in my Tangale language so that it can be more “ancient”.

Africans, particularly Nigerians prefer to give English names to their children, that’s neocolonialism. If not, how would you prefer an English name to your native name just because it’s pleasant to pronounce or hear? Many people were brainwashed into believing that their native names are not good.

I’ve seen people who, due to low self-esteem and inferiority complex, changed their names, some translated their names to English names but I’ve never seen the English people bearing African names.

I see names as nothing but a means of identity; personality should matter to people, not the names they bear. Even on social media, there are many people who are not proud of using their real names, hence, they resorted to using pseudos.

Your name doesn’t define you, your personality does. Focus on developing your personality rather than wasting your energy on changing your name. Your personality is what distinguishes you from others, not your name. Your personality will take you to places, not your supposed “sweet, modern or contemporary name.”

Be real, you don’t have to change your name. Many people believe that the name used to “follow” people. So many people hold on to the superstitious belief that the names given to people determine their destiny. So, when naming their children, they usually look for the meaning of names that will tally with what they want their children to become.

There was a time a particular young man used to come around, he actually comes to see my nephew, together with his friends. I don’t engage in their conversations but I overheard the young man repeatedly said that he wanted to change his name, this he kept saying whenever he came to visit his friends (my younger ones).

When asked why he wanted to change his name, his response was that being a twin, he thinks that what happened between Jacob and Esau happened between him and his twin brother. He thought his brother had taken his birthright. He was very serious about it, that he thinks his brother has overtaken him in virtually every aspect, that even academically, he used to be better than his twin brother but later on, his brother started performing better than him.

I’ve seen many instances where people generalized those who bear the same name. Some people would say that they won’t have anything with people who have a particular name because they believe that people with such names have the same character.

When my brother named his daughter “Sarah”, some people were saying that hope she will different because, according to them, those who bear the name “Sarah” are somewhat wayward. I’ve seen many cases where people name their children after some people, thinking that when their children grow up, they will be like them.

When former President Goodluck Jonathan became the president, many people believed that “good luck” followed him. I’ve seen many people giving their children the name “Goodluck” and I laugh, maybe their children will also become presidents. They believe that the name has followed him.

Dear Africans, you have to know that name is only a means of identification and it has nothing to do with destiny. You can argue with your superstitious belief.

The fact that you name your child Success doesn’t mean that the name will make your child be successful, the fact that you name your child Innocent doesn’t mean that you will not commit any crime. The fact that you name your child after somebody doesn’t mean that your child will be like the person.

If you believe that having a particular name determines one’s destiny or defines one’s character, he’s an assignment. Gather people with the same name, examine their lives to know whether they have the same character, personality or destiny, if you discover the opposite, then you should discard that belief. Even if people who bear the same name have the same personality, traits or character, I see it as a mere coincidence, not because they have the same name.

It’s good to bear or give good names to your children but capitalizing on the name as a determinant of their success or destiny is what we’ll spend the rest of our lives arguing because I don’t find any logic in it.

Instead of relying on names to determine the destiny of your children, train your children very well to become the best, the name you gave them cannot make them become anything.

Like I said early on, your character, destiny, personality, and everything that concerns you don’t depend on the name you bear.

Focus on developing yourself to be a better person, not worrying about your name.

By Bulus Shehu

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