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Can a name shape your identity?

“Names are given in Igbo land to a child surrounding the circumstance leading to the birth of that child while others indicate the family situation…

“Names are given in Igbo land to a child surrounding the circumstance leading to the birth of that child while others indicate the family situation or mother’s situation as at the birth of the child. Other names are appreciation of God. For example ‘Nwakaego’ means that a child is more precious than money and you will notice that in his life time that child will succeed no matter what whether with or without money” says Mrs Ebere Chika.

Names are said also to be the driving force of what that child will be in the future as Mr Emeka Chidebere says “it is funny when I hear funny names that have no significance or relevance being given to a child. The name we give to a child ought to be like a guiding light in their lives, not one that would have negative effects on them as they grow”. It is different stroke for different people. A child is said to come with a name from heaven at least so says Mr. Adedayo Akindele “a child is said to be born with a name when there is a peculiar circumstance leading to the birth of that child. In our culture great significance and importance is given to naming a child, though it is important to note that not all children are born with a name and when such happens the normal names are given to them but they must be names that will help bring progress to the life of that child”.

 There are several school of thought that have diverse beliefs about the significance and power behind a name as some believe that the hidden meaning of a name is more akin to astrology or fortune telling. According to Mr. Peter Okey, a psychologist, “a name is cherished in most societies and cultures. For example, the Jews, believe that a name represents the soul of a person and therefore can influence the person’s life, because of this single fact they do not name a child after a living soul for fear that both will have to share one destiny thereby shortening the life span of the older person, so in essence you can see how relevant a name is to such a society which is not in any way different from our culture here in Nigeria”

Ustaz Bello Musa said “the matter of naming a child is most times taken likely by the parents, thereby making inevitable mistakes that affect the child negatively. A name might sound nice but has a bad meaning. So, it is highly recommended that parents investigate the meaning of names before naming the children because it goes a long way in sharpening and affecting their lives.”

“There are names that are given in Egbira land to a child to reflect the importance the child has brought to the house, and sometimes names are given to a child that since the inception of the pregnancy things became worse for the family and therefore the child is given a negative name, these kind of names are considered as circumstantial, but nowadays those kind of names are discouraged. But in the long run a name defines a person and there should be extreme care and precaution when naming a child,” said Jubril Omeiza Abbas.

As parents would want to give some thought to the various opinions about the significance of names even if some seem deep rooted in outdated philosophies but still might want to think twice about the name they are giving their child, as no one can say for certain if a child’s name will affect his entire life. But if truly a name is entwined with the destiny of a child then the responsibility to determine the life of our children truly is a serious one.