What is in a name?

by Shola Adebowale

Nigerians are a people with a deep faith in God and the supernatural that surpasses any other country under the sun. This could have been responsible for the deep faith that Nigerians attached to names. Here you can hardly find a family that would give names to their children without any cogent reason and invariably a meaning to such name .Unlike in the western world where a man can just wake up at dawn and at noon give any names to his children like Bush, Wood, Stone, Lagos, Rice, Wood, Paris, Chelsea, Judas among others.

What is in a name? Disenchanted Juliet posed this question to her enraged parents whose indignation toward her suitorship with Romeo knew no bound. In that dialogue, Juliet pointed out a deep truth which this discourse will rest upon.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet”. Juliet implied that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, that a name is anything and could be anything. For instance if a man should buy a dog and give him a name, that name is just for identification, unless if it is subjected to a further esoteric meaning and nature, that dog will remain a dog. For instance, while alive Fela was noted to have bought some fabled dogs and named two among them- Abiola and the other Obasanjo. Till date, no one has come out to claim that any of those dogs behave like any of the names after whom they were named. The dogs stole Fela’s things no doubt about that and he used that to ‘malign’ the real Abiola and Obasanjo. However, we all know that such misdemeanor is one of the age long characteristic tendencies of a dog.

What is in a name? In the past we have witnessed personality whose name aptly applied to national issues at hand and captured invariably the mood of the nation at such particular point in time. For instance, the name GOWON (the head of state during the unfortunate Nigerian civil war) was used to invoke the spirit and yearning of more than halve of the nation –‘’Go On With One Nigeria’’. While his second name, YAKUBU became-“You are keeping Unity between us” .And so it was.

What is in a name? In recent time in Nigeria we have seen how names like (AN)TONY which is a Latin word that means-priceless, seemed to keep on reoccurring in our daily life as a nation, from Anthony (Enahoro),( lest we forget the unsung hero who moved the motion for our independence), Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony, “The Black Englishman”,(An)Tony (Momoh),a onetime minister, (An)Tony (Anenih),a onetime minister, to several ‘Tonies’, which for space could have been mentioned here. The reoccurrence of such name at every point of our national life in each generation could be said to have possess something that is synonymous with greatness. Not assimilar to the ancient ‘Anthon(ies)’ like Saint Anthony the Great known as the founder of Christian practices of monasticism and Mark Anthony who united the Roman empire after the gruesome murder of Julius Caesar.

What is in a name? Before the June 12th debacle that claimed the life of M.K.O. Abiola. The man MKO was wealth personified and his name in every sense of it, is wealth. For instance, Abiola literarily means ‘Born into wealth’ or ‘Born wealthy’. While his initials denoted wealth or money in English, Hausa and Yoruba respectively- ‘M’-money,’ K’-kudi, ’O’-owo. Who can deny the fact that Abiola is money personified? Since his death, this nation is yet to witness a philanthropist and generous individual to a fault like MKO. And like one Islamic cleric once pointed out, some are destined for wealth and not power, such is the conclusion that could be drawn from his name.

What is in a name? However, there are instances when names and the individuals involved have gone parallel, by antagonizing one another. For instance the name Ibrahim or Abraham means ‘Father of nations’. However, the most famous Ibrahim in Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida betrayed the name by his actions and hence it was substituted with ‘Maradona’ which aptly captured his actions. Two times his endless ‘’transitional programme’’ or unending democratization almost tore the nation apart. First in April, 1990, when the Orka group attempted to severe 6 states into ‘Arewa Republic’ (remembered that the boys made reference to the unending democratization as a major point of their attempted putsch). And secondly, June 12, when the annulment of the freest and fairest election in the nation’s history almost severe another 6 states into’ Oodua Republic’. He is now consulting to change his name from a military dictator to a true democrat.

And now, Michael Aondoakaa. For every Bible student, the name Michael is highly revered. This is a name of one of the greatest angels of God, a prince of God. However, our own Michael is something else, from being devil’s advocate to a controversial figure churning up foam of shameless utterances and as recently noted by Reuben Abati ,(Michael Aondoakaa) is well noted to have ‘’acquired a notorious reputation for bending the law to serve narrow interests’’. How can a SAN, a supposed man of letter, a legal luminary, descended so low, crude and untamed to have pronounced before more than 150 million people that the president of a nation can rule his people from anywhere. There is no doubt that Michael Aondoakaa has to be sent back to the University, so that he can learn that in government, territory is a strong pillar of sovereignty. If there is anything in a name, Michael Aondoakaa has betrayed it in a swoop.

What is in a name? And now the rave of the moment in Nigeria, the man after whom so many parents are now naming their kids, Goodluck Jonathan. This man has been showing to the world that there is more to a name than being a tag. He has lived up to his name in every step he takes and in every phase of his life. He has continued to prove to humanity that a man can live his name. However, it is now that the true test of his name will really be put to critical test and assessment.

What is in a name? We would like to see how ‘Goodluck’, will use his name to better the lots of Nigerians. We want to see how ‘Goodluck’ will surmount Nigeria’s myriads of challenges. We want to see how ‘Goodluck’ will temper the ‘mafias’, the ‘cabals’ that have enslaved the people from independence. We want to see how ‘Goodluck’ will deal with the issue of power supply which has become one of the greatest embarrassments to the nation. We want to see how ‘Goodluck’ will conduct a credible election. We want to see how ‘Goodluck’ will put smiles on the face of a people battered and bruised by many many years of maladministration and contagious corruptions.

In other words, like Shakespeare once pointed out ’’The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves’’. A name is just another name until the bearer is able to make a meaning out of it.

You may also like

Leave a Comment