Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Friday, May 02, 2008

On Nigerian Names

I've been having an ongoing debate with my girlfriend over the last few weeks about Nigerian names.  It started out when I commented that there were more Nigerians in the UK with 'English' first names than there were with their 'Original' ethnic first names.  She disagreed as she explained that the majority of her friends use their Nigerian names at work not reverting to any English names. I wonder what percentage of Nigerians retain a Nigerian first name (like Ngozi, Ade and Tosin as opposed to Jane, Kate and Fred) in the working place in the west. 

At my very first job interview in the UK, the interviewer had my CV in front of him and seeing Morountodun (well I am an anonymous blogger after all)  he then proceeded to ask what my 'Christian' name is.  Studies have proven that recruiters tend to prefer to favour applicants with names they can easily pronounce, against applicants that have 'foriegn sounding names'.  

Our conversation has since proceeded to discussing potential child names, where I would prefer 'Christian' names for my children, but my girlfriend favours only Yoruba/African ones.  I think the compromise will be somewhere in the middle where we choose yoruba names with 'english' sounding abbreviations ie Fara (Oluwafaratimi), Kenny (Kehinde) etc.  I wonder if we are compromising...


Anonymous ebele said...

Hmmm...couldn't you find out the meaning behind a Christian name, then translate it to Yoruba? Win-win situation for the both of you, perhaps?

12:57 am, May 03, 2008  
Blogger omidanbellafricaine said...

well it's a good/wise compromise because your fears are indeed valid (there's been studies that prove that too lazy to state which ones)
This way you get to keep your roots and give your kids every advantage you can. u guys are thinking hard about this kids issue sha o paying attention to subtle things like names and career potentials

9:47 am, May 03, 2008  
Blogger musco said...

whatever names u give them,it will never change the fact that they will be nigerians.

thanks 4 stopping by my blog!

4:25 pm, May 03, 2008  
Blogger Morountodun said...

@ Ebele - thanks for the suggestion but I'm sure my girlfriend would prefer to do the reverse (find a yoruba name we both like and see if any 'christian' names have the same meaning)

@ Omidan - My girl has got some serious plans for the unborn ones I wonder if they will ever have time to play, LOL!

@ Musco - I'm not sure I agree. Funnily enough it was the very first thing I blogged about (see here ).

8:15 pm, May 03, 2008  
Blogger pink gloves said...

I am half naija, and i am looking forward to giving my children a nice Yoruba first name. I believe there is beauty in a name. I have pple who look at my name, and look at me. I am quick to teach everyone, including my own mother how to say my name correctly. My children can Have English middle names.

10:15 am, May 04, 2008  
Blogger ibiluv said...

You can decide on an english AND a yoruba name......i know a lot of people though who stick to their African names...the whites just have to learn to pronounce it

10:36 am, May 05, 2008  
Anonymous T-man said...

@ ibiluv, I support ur point of view. Interestingly though, my girlfriend thinks I'm double-faced as I stick to calling her the name with which she introduced herself to me the first time we met, which happen to be an English name. I'm doing this just on principle but our kids will definitely be named according to oour Yoruba tradition.

7:38 pm, May 07, 2008  
Blogger Jola Naibi said...

When we had our daughter we gave a nice easy to pronounce English first names and a few Yoruba ones. It was an English name that we love and it reminded us of her paternal grandma...I was astounded at the number of people who vowed never to address her by her 'oyibo' name and some even went as far as bestowing their own names on her saying that is what she will be called by them. Fast forward to a few short years later and --- the same people who were adamant about forsaking a three letter two syllable name need to be reminded that they gave her an alternative name. Moral of the story - Your position as a parent gives you automatic naming rights...sooner or later, everyone will learn to call your child by that name even those who find the so called oyibo names offensive

8:01 pm, May 12, 2008  
Blogger Naapali said...

Naming is important and sensitive for us Nigerians especially Yoruba as we tell stories and histories with names. I find Americans asking the meaning of our names.

Our oldest daughter has a Hawaiian first name (my choice) and Yoruba and Igbo other names. Our second, has a Yoruba first name, and Yoruba/Igbo/Hawaiian other names. As a concession to where we live and the only place they know as home the names are relatively easy to pronounce for anyone willing to work.

We did not pick English/American etc names because we feel we must preserve some of their heritage. Also we do not recall any English/American persons changing their names to that of the locals wherever they have settled.

11:55 pm, May 17, 2008  
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Anonymous Bunmi said...

Think Globally, Act Locally - is a wise phrase.

I give my children lovely Yoruba names that are also easy for all to say. And my children love the names as do their classmates and teachers.

I learnt from my own personal story. My parents gave me names they really love - but unfortunately - I get my name spelt and pronounced in so many different ways.

I realized at work (multinational Organizations in Europe) soon that clients were avoiding talking to me directly - not because of racism, but because they were embarrassed at not knowing how to say my name correctly and didn't want to cause offence.

Needless to say I was doing all the hard work, but get pushed behind the scene when time comes to meet the clients and the pats on the back.

I started using an adopted name, which was easier to pronounce, and soon after managed to land new type of job I've been chasing for years, with multiple times salary.

Just look at it this way:
* if you are an employer, 50 good candidates are chasing to be your Secretary. You've narrowed them down to the last 3 - with nothing to separate them, all 3 extremely good. Unfortunately, you need to cut 2 of the 3.

One of the last 3 now happens to be called: "Zchulingatzdunbala", "Remi" and "Fife".

I'm guessing Zchulingatzdunbala" has somehow made the choice easier.

We live in a global economy now. We need a strong personal identity, mixed with a global outlook.

Hence why i said: Act Locally and Think Globally.

Bunmi (Boumi, Bumi, Boomie, Bonmi, Bummi, etc, etc)

10:51 am, May 10, 2011  
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Blogger Kumzy2002 said...

Please I need suggestions for Yoruba baby boy's name that still sounds modern and easy for Americans to pronounce. Your suggestion is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

9:33 pm, October 01, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you should not compromise on the meaning of your childs name for the sake of the ease of the europeans. A name is a beautiful and important part of a human being and should be decided not on how it will be perceived or pronounced by society. chose a name that inspires you or confirms your aspirations for your child.Be it an english name or a Nigerian name the importance is not in how it is perceived but in how beautiful the meaning is. Oh and by the way if the europeans can pronounce such names as wallowitz and Piotrek,Andrez,Kowlowski,modjeska and the sort then they can sure as hell pronounce Adeyemi and Babatunde .

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Some of those Foriegn sounding Yoruba Names are just hilarious! My ex calls herself Wendy at work (her naija name is Yewande), Bims for Abimbola etc, etc

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