Monthly Archives: March 2018

Say My Name!

I attended an amazing conference some months ago and the issue of names came up. The point being raised was that your name is your identity and it deserved to be pronounced properly.

After hearing the statement and processing it, I realised I had gotten comfortable with incorrect pronunciation of my name, literally for as long as I could remember. I’m sure many Africans can relate with an official phone call to the house and the person on the other line stumbling at the pronunciation of your name until they manage to offer one that bears a vague type of resemblance to your original name. Or having a supply teacher at school that would insist on calling everyone by their first and last names. Till this day I struggle to understand why this was necessary. Those with foreign sounding names would be subjected to a teacher butchering their name while the other classmates had a giggle at your expense. I wonder if this why we have just come to accept that bad pronunciation of names is ok? Sometimes the hassle of correcting the incorrect pronunciation seems so great that we accept the wrong one so we can quickly leave behind the very embarrassing situation.

In my experience, a lot of Africans (and other races too) accept really poor pronunciations of their names to make things easier for other people. I have also definitely accepted the lie that people not from where I’m from could not pronounce my name properly. The conference I attended helped me to understand what a big lie that is.

There are a plethora of foreign and non English names that are regularly pronounced correctly without struggle. So how hard is your Nigerian name? Your Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa name?

I’ve become so used to pronouncing my name wrongly that I will say it before even realising what I said. It’s something I will continue to work on

Until next time,

Memoirs of a Yoruba girl

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