So you have been praying to God to give you a son, believing that it will be your most cherished achievement if you may call it that. You promise God Heaven and Earth in return if he grants your wishes forgetting that He created them in the first place, and still owns and controls what goes on there. The matter is not helped by your African origin or rather Igbo origin to be precise. The whole village joins in the prayer to Chi to grant your wishes and give you a son that will inherit your Obi when you are gone.
Your wife is Igbo too, and she joins in the prayer for a son alongside her family. You know why and can’t blame them. The Igbos have a saying that a woman’s place in her husband’s house is only cemented after the birth of a baby boy. You wonder sometimes the sense in the saying, or belief and the psychological scar it leaves in the hearts of Igbo women, or women married to Igbo men. You think about what Barrack Obama’s fate would have been if he was an Igbo man, doing the type of job he is doing presently as the President of America and his Umunna decide to go and visit him at the White House.
You could almost picture the type of conversation that will be taking place, led by Nze Obama, the surviving elder of the Obama clan. They would start by reminding him how his father would have wished to have a son running around the White House lawns alongside Malia Ann and Sasha, they will finish by reminding him what a true Igbo warrior he is, how the Okonkwo warrior traits runs in his veins and why it is important for him to answer his father’s name by demonstrating that he is indeed a true son of his father by redeeming his head through siring a male child. Of course they would have traced his ancestry to Ogbuefi Omenka Obama who reportedly married 100 wives and sired a million children comprising mainly sons.
Poor Michelle, how could she have coped listening in on such conversations over her marital fate who would have found a precedence by recommending that their son Barrack, go the Clinton way and seek for himself an intern that would take care of his afterhours in the hope that his Odogwu will behave like the typical African with the results showing after 9 months, rather than fiddling with a cigar, afterall, are cigars not meant for smoking only? they would have asked him.
You are jolted back to reality by your own situation, and back from your White House day dreams with the news that Yes, God has finally answered your prayers; you are going to have a son afterall. Just when you are about to begin praising him, the next challenge comes. Another family hurdle to cross. What name do you call your son?
You would have thought that this would be the easiest part, but to your surprise, it is a tricky one. As the father of the child, you know what you want to call your son; A, but it is not so simple. There are loads of stakeholders to appease. Starting with your wife, she is the one who did all the work for 9 months, you were only a witness. She tells you that she has always wanted to name her son B. Well, that’s nice but you are not quite satisfied with having a son called B. You let the matter lie but finally the long awaited day is here and the baby has popped out. The child needs a name.
You revisit the B situation with your wife, still no shifting of grounds. And then, your parents weigh in with the name C, your in-laws weigh in too with name D, the grand parents don’t want to be left out in the baby naming or rather baby branding game. They throw in a couple more, two from each side thus adding E, F, G and H to the list. You wonder who else has an opinion concerning this name matter, perhaps your primary teacher. It is not as if the names being suggested are simple names like Emeka, Udo or Amaka. It is those long names that make a mouthful, the type that easily get lost in translation and get misspelt every step of the child’s growing up; during Elementary, Secondary, JAMB, NYSC etc. You wonder what purpose the long names being suggested will serve and the possible impact they may have on the child’s life.
Finally, you come to a compromise with your wife; she provides the first name while you provide the baptismal name. You leave the parents and the grannies for now with the hope to revisit the situation in the future. And off you go to your Parish priest to arrange for baptism and there, you receive more surprises. He also has his own views and pulls out a combination of names from his hat, sorry, his book. He tells you their origins and how nice they sound. You thank him but tell him no, you are an African and you want your son to bear an African name. He stares at you for a minute and wonders what got over you, you tell him that nothing has come over you, only that as the father of the child, you wish to be allowed to call your son the name that you wish, you wonder aloud why it is such a difficult wish to fulfil.
Reverend Father M is not done yet. He reminds you that you live in the United Kingdom, and so do your wife and son. It will be better if the boy bore an English name such as James or John. You ask him how that will make life easier for the boy, would that also help in changing his skin colour to white to complete the easy life mode he was on about. You receive only stares for an answer but still insist on the names you have given him earlier, finally he budges.
As you walk down the street in the London cold, you are bemused by all the fuss in the name of the son.