My name is Avwarosuoghene and there’s a reason I use my “English name” instead. Human beings tend to murder names they’re not familiar with and my tolerance for it is extremely low, so I discovered the easy way out in Primary 5, and entered Secondary School as “Joy.”
Unfortunately, Nigerians are way better at this than the rest of the world. “Better” because they don’t always murder the name, sometimes they just write/say whatever they feel it should be, or what it is closest to in their languages. No effort whatsoever to pronounce or spell it properly.
One of my professional mentors, Last Eguavoen, was called Ogunefon all his days as a student at Ife. Ogunefon is mosquito coil, by the way. His uncle, Chief Edebiri, was called Dabiri by everyone in his office.
Famous Nigerians are not spared either:
- Yemi Osinbajo
If I had a kobo for each “Osibanjo” I’ve seen, I’d be a billionaire by now. It was worse during the election period; “Osibanjo” on nearly all lips and in nearly all tweets. The day I saw it in a news publication I lost hope. He was running for the 2nd highest office in the land for goodness’ sake!
- Stella Damasus
The lovely actress even released a statement many years ago about the incessant misspelling of her name. Did it help? For where! Paul met Jesus on the way to Damascus. ‘Damasus’ has no meaning known to the Nigerian public. Therefore, we must write Damascus. The end!
- Chimamanda Adichie
I don’t know why this happens, honestly. I would expect any mistake to be made in the longer name, but I keep seeing “Adiche” and I can’t understand. Thank God people are simply writing “Chimamanda” now and even “CNA”. Let’s just leave it like that.
- Omawumi Megbele
If it’s happening to a celeb like this, what can the rest hope for? My friend Omawumi got married and some people still printed “Omawunmi” on souvenirs for her. It’s Wunmi in Yoruba language and nobody cares about your minority language. The ‘n’ must enter. Take it!
- Omotola Ekeinde
As a child, the main confusion was “Jolade” and “Jalade”. Filmmakers simply chose whichever they felt like using. Now that one has passed and it’s “Ekehinde”. It’s all right.
- Ivie Okujaye
What is Okujaye? Please, please, please. The name must “jaiye” or we’re not having it. So it must be Okujaiye by force.
- Emmanuel Amuneke
I grew up hearing “Amunike” on sports shows and reading it in sports magazines, so you can imagine my surprise the first day I saw the proper spelling and realized even the pronunciation was wrong. I’m just tired. The footballer was probably more tired; he just left the Amuneke for his family and accepted Amunike since Nigerians wouldn’t let him rest. You people are happy now, right?
It’s only decent to spell and pronounce a person’s name the way they spell and pronounce it, for goodness’ sake! Not the way YOU think it should be. If someone’s Uzo has no “r” don’t add it for her. If someone is a Stephen leave it at that, don’t write his name as “Steven”. If someone writes her name as Ann, it’s not nice to keep writing “Anne” for her. If someone spells her name as Shade you don’t get any extra points for writing “Sade” because it’s the “correct” Yoruba spelling. Respecting a person’s name is part of respecting them. If you never paid attention to this before, please start today.