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How can one protect his name?

The name an individual bears is a unique identifier that either brings honour or dishonour to the owner. The honour or dishonour a name bearer…

The name an individual bears is a unique identifier that either brings honour or dishonour to the owner. The honour or dishonour a name bearer gets from their name is dependent on their deeds. An important part of a person’s identity is provided in his name as it suggests a sense of who the person is. One’s thoughts and behaviours may even be shaped by the name he bears. 

Society will be in confusion and disarray if we do not bear names to distinguish one person from the other. Imagine if things (everything including anything) were not named, communication would be difficult and co-habiting with fellow human beings would be impossible. Assigning a name to an individual or something helps easy labelling and identification as it provides orderliness in a setting. 

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A name may also mean responsibility as everyone is answerable to their name. Being assigned a particular name comes with its own expected responsibilities. The onus of living a name and protecting it lies solely on the bearer as people will only remember the name on grounds of how well the bearer has taken the responsibility for his identity.

When a statement is issued by an individual, attention is usually on the name of the issuer, not on the contents of the statement. What matters is the name attached to it. What is said by an individual may not attract comments or reactions, but if that same thing is said by another person, it may trigger chaos. The same also applies to why certain actions taken by some unpopular figures in a society or even across the globe do not count, but when the same actions are carried out by popular or known names, commendation or condemnation pops up. This is because a name as a form of identity matters a lot and it determines man’s way of life. It also underscores the important role a name plays in determining the trend of things in the life of man.

How then can one protect his name? The answer isn’t farfetched – watch your actions!

History is full of bearers of names (dead or alive) whose actions have made or marred their careers. At the mention of their names, a bell rings in the ears of the hearer which reminds of the good or bad the bearer has done. That a name still leaves memories even after the death of the owner is a pointer to the reality of a high significance in the life of the bearer.

The Holy Scripture even affirms that a good name is more desirable than great riches, and to be esteemed is better than silver and gold. A good name here is earned by honourable behaviour, moral uprightness and integrity. An individual who protects and saves his name at the expense of riches surely understands the significance of the name.

What a name stands for may be analyzed from two perspectives – the cultural background of the family and the living reality of the bearer. The cultural background explains how a name is coined based on beliefs and traditions. The living reality of the bearer points to what is being done by the carrier of a name after the christening.

You certainly cannot decide what name would be assigned to you at birth. The circumstance that warrants or leads to one’s birth may determine the name one is assigned. Many other factors may be responsible for the name given to the bearer. Someone might even choose to change their name for many reasons best known to them when they grow up to the age of accountability and responsibility. However, you can only fulfil and bring to reality the name you were given by the life you live. So, there is more to a name than the bearer of that name.

Everyone should therefore be mindful of their actions because they determine if their names would be remembered for good or bad when they are long gone. We all must understand that every deed is done – good or bad affects our name. The impact one’s deed has on his name usually doesn’t reflect immediately, it does and even more clearly after the bearer departs the world.

Your name is not just who you are, it is your life. Until your name matters to you as your life, you have not placed a premium on your name. You are not guarding your life if you are not guarding your name. Even if a life is lost, the name of the deceased still lives on. In the end, a name doesn’t die, only the bearer dies.

Ojewale is of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, and writes via [email protected]

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