What’s In A Name?

In 2019, I had what I believed was an amazing idea; a mini-documentary featuring my grandfather, my father and myself. I am in love with history and culture, and strongly feel that there is so much more Nigerians could be sharing with the world about who we are. There is a lot about our different cultures and traditions to be proud of; the way we dress, what we eat, our languages, our folklores/tales, the way we celebrate or mourn, and of course, our names (Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, just a few of the things that came to mind immediately.).

Anyway, I got excited and spoke to my business partner and co-creator about it, but didn’t have any urgency around the project. Then, the pandemic happened, and my grandfather died. I miss him a lot, and one of my biggest regrets is not creating this project with him. Stories are important, and having recorded stories; written down, audio or video is very precious.

Regret is, however, mostly useless and I refused to dwell on that. Mid-April, my amazing team at Salt & Truth brought the beginning of my vision to life. To me, names are really important and hold incredible value and that’s all down to my tribe and my culture. Traditionally, in Yoruba culture, a child is named 8 days after they are born, and there is an entire ceremony around it (and a party) where the names and meanings are announced to friends and family. The names a child is given tell stories; the story of the family lineage, the circumstances around the childbirth, and most importantly, the hopes and dreams the parents have for the child. So every time that child’s name is called, a prayer is said, and a blessing is proclaimed. Isn’t that amazing?

My hope for “Who Do You Think You Are” is that it becomes a series in some form; an ad campaign sponsored online series, commissioned mini-series for a platform… I don’t mind. I would love to talk to people from different cultures and tribes across Nigeria, Africa, and the world about their names and where they come from. So I really need your help. Please, please, please watch the video, like and comment on the video, subscribe to the channel, and most importantly share it every single place you can. Share it on all your social media platforms, share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and enemies. Any and everybody. The more people see it, the better its chances!

Finally, please share with me your honest thoughts and any stories around your name or surname. I really do want to know

11 Comments

  • Omowaleayo

    I love the documentary, it was really thought provoking. I enjoyed watching it and it made me think about my own name and the stories attached to it. My name is Omowaleayo which means A child has come into the house of Joy. My middle name is Alanu ni Jehovah meaning Jehovah is merciful. The story behind Alanu was that I was born premature and I almost died so it was God's mercy that preserved my life. I've never really been particular about my name and its story. Thank you for making me reflect on it.

  • Gladys

    My name is Zugwai (Bajju tribe of Southern Kaduna) and it means "thank you".

  • Frances

    Okieoghene, I am urhobo and my name means God's time. I don't really know why my parents named me Okieoghene but I have grown to love my name. Whenever I am overwhelmed by my future, things aren't working in my favour, I just stop and ask myself "what is your name?" And I am at peace. So to me my name is a hope for me,A prayer, a proclamation and I love my name

  • Nyero

    I have always been in love with Nigerian names, left to me no one would have “English middle names” . I am urhobo and my name is Oghenenyerovwo meaning “God answers prayers”. I think that my name is an answer to my surname in a way. My surname asks “who gives children” and ironically my name answers it.

  • Debs

    I really loved the documentary Jola My name is Oluwabuiyukunmi meaning God added honour to my life. Till today I still don't know why I was given the name because my mum says in due time I'll get to know. Well done Jolaoluwa

  • Garnett

    i am always in awe of how much meaning nigerian names carry, i am kenyan, and here, we are often named after seasons, time and nature of birth. my name is Achieng', i was born when the sun was shining

  • folusho

    I love names, what I especially love more is Oriki, it is such an homage to who you are as a person, who and where you come from. I think of it as my own personal history. My name is Foluwasho meaning God watches over her. My middle name is Adesileola a one word ode to my father because I was born on the day of his house warming, (my father’s name is Ade). I love the project. 💕💕

  • Kiibati

    I love it !

  • Oreofeoluwa

    My name is Oreofeoluwa - it means the Grace of God. My mother likes to say she received the name from her bible even before I was conceived. To her, after multiple miscarriages, it was almost impossible for her to conceive or even dream of carrying another child to full term. And she was already 35 which they say is a risky risky age for anyone to have a baby, more less someone that has suffered plenty birthing complications But she wanted a daughter, she knew what she wanted. So she said, with the grace of God on her side, she'd birth the daughter that she so desired. Even before I came, to her, it was a prayer. A declaration, a constant reminder that with the Grace of the God she so desperately believed in, anything was possible. And she had such a difficult pregnancy with me, they had to have an emergency c-section two weeks before I was due because I wasn't turning and instead of being positioned head first, I was feet first and there was no way she was going to birth me vaginally without everything going to shit. But the name she already had for me kept her going, that by the grace of God she'd hold her baby in her arms and she did. That's the only one of my names that doesn't have a "ade" suffix or prefix.

  • Feranmi

    I really love the video Jola. I went home during the weekend and it struck me to ask my mother why I bear my names. My first name,she said was given to me by my grandfather while the other was by her. They are both lovely names but I love hers especially.

  • Golibe

    At birth I was named Chinenyenwa by my father meaning God gives Children because it took a little while after my older sister was born before I was conceived, but a few months after my birth, my grandma named me Golibenachukwu meaning "rejoice in the lord" and everyone loved the name so much and thought it was special so they all started calling me "Golibe" and that's the name I go by now but it's not my official name lol

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