Monday, August 16, 2010

Nigerian names in America

My friend posted this as a note on Facebook. It made me laugh, so I though I should share it. :) By the way, I agree with the writer.

Oh yes, I'm on the case of the Nigerians in my neck of the woods. Why not? They keep on giving me reasons to write about them. My goodness, they never cease to amaze me. This group of Nigerians are very clever in many respects even when it comes to abbreviating their fine and meaningful Nigerian names to English names in an effort to avoid identification as a Nigerian or simply to avoid been asked to pronounce their names over and over by their American host. Most Nigerians with long native [first] names know exactly what I'm talking about. Sometimes, it takes several minutes before our American friends could pronounce our names and given the fact that some do not have the time nor the patience to guide these Americans through the pronounciation of their names, they resort to very un-orthodox English abbreviations which invariably eliminates the fine meaning of their names.

So let's take a look at some of these names whose abbreviations I have heard over the years and which have been adopted by some of the Nigerians in my neck of the woods. I am sure you have heard them too:

1. Babatunde---------Barry. This means the Jazz legend, Barry White, is actually Babatunde White.
2. Adebayo----------Baylor. Come on, now. Is Bayo so difficult that we have to adopt "Baylor" as its abbreviation?
3. Chukwuemeka---------Mickey. Could you imagine, Lt. Col. Mickey Odumegwu Ojukwu? Or Disney cartoon character called Chuwkuemeka Mouse?
4. Tamunoami-------Amy. Why abbrievate such a beautiful name?
5. Adenike-------Nikki.
6. Nwankwo-------Wanny. Could you imagine, the football commentator shouting at the top of his lungs, "O' Wanny Kanu has just scored for Nigeria." "Wanny who?", fans would ask.
7. Kayode-------Karl. So Karl Marx was actually Kayode Marx.
8. Taiwo-------Tyrone. God help us on this one.
. Oladele------Dale. Oladele sounds sweeter, doesn't it?
10. Oladapo-----Daps. He must have gone off the deep end when he adopted this abbreviation. What happened to "Dapo"?
11. Tijani-------Tikki. Get used to Tikki Babangida of the Super Eagles.
12. Abdullahi--------Abby. Hmmmmmm.
13. Olusegun-------Lushia. President Lushia Matthew Aremu Obasanjo of Nigeria. Interesting.
14. Uchenna-----Cheney. Vice President Dick Uchenna of the US. So a Nigerian is VP of the US. Very good.
15. Chinyere-------Chimerie. How about "Chichi?"
16. Seye----------Shawn. It might as well be "Shenaynay".
17. Adebanjo-------Baggy. What a laugh.
18. Garba----------Gary. Why not just call it garri as in eba?
19. Haruna------Harry. This is not far-fetched, but isn't Haruna a unique and sweet sounding name than Harry? There must be a 100 million Harrys in this world why add another?
20. Tamunokuru----------Kerry. Now, this name means, "God's power." The abbrievation, "Kerry", has done injustice to it.
21. Ipalibo------Libby. O sweet heavens, what is happening to Nigerians?
22. Tonye ------Toni for female and Tony for male. Hmmmm, why not just leave it as it is?
23. Ikechukwu-------Ike as in "Ike Turner."
24. Yetunde------Yetty. Oh Lord.
25. Omorodey-----------------------Moe. What "Moe"?
26. Ajike------Jake. What then is the short version of Jacob? "Jike"?
27. Oluwole------------Wally. Whatever happened to Wole like in Wole Soyinka?
28. Ronke--------------Ronice. Is Ronke really difficult to pronounce? Even for Americans?
29. Olufemi------------------Lulu. Give me a break.
30. Osazee--------------------Zigi. I'm dying of laughter.
31. Olatunde-----------------Larry. Am I hearing right? Larry for Olatunde?
32. Tohan-----------------------Tobby. Sounds like the name of a family dog back in the 80s...
33. Yinka------------------------Kiki. Please, let me hear something. What "kiki"?
34. Eberechi--------------------------Bebe. Don't underestimate the creativity of Nigerians.
35. Ngozi-------------------------Goslet. I am shaking my head on this one. Mine! Mine!!.Mine!!
36. Uzomah---------Zouk. Isn't that a type music that originated in the Caribbean?
37. Kehinde----------Kelly for women and Kenny for men. What then is the abbreviation for Kenneth?
38. Modupe----------------------Molly. "Molly" as an abbreviation for this beautiful and sexy name? If you ask me I would its takes the appeal right out of it.
39. Tamunoboma-----------Boomer. Why don't we just call them "Boomerang"?
And last but not least...
40. Rotimi-------Tim. What an insult to such a fine and enchanting name.

Hey, friends, if you are one of those fortunate to have a Nigerian first name, I say leave it the way it is or abbreviate it to something meaningful like "Femi" for "Olufemi", "Ana" for "Adanna", "Ugo" for "Ugochukwu" or "Emeka" for "Chukwuemeka", etc, and let others learn how to pronounce it. Afterall, if they can pronounce with ease jaw-breaking Polish and other names like the name of the head basketball coach of Duke University, Mike "Chef-Chef-Ski", something like that or the general who led the Gulf war, Norman Shwa-something or movie star and husband of Maria Shriver, Arnold Sh..., you know the rest, why not yours. This might be the only identity you have, a reflection of your culture, value and meaning. So I say, don't let them take the easy way out. Let them pronounce it and pronounce it right. They owe you that much. YEAH!!!


  1. For real,or is this some kind of joke,when will we Nigerians learn to be proud of our heritage,let them learn how to pronounce name for God sake,if they cant, sit them down and teach them,they say repition is the law of deep and lasting impression.i'm sure if they say there is gold in an island named Kasarachi they will know how to pronounce it

  2. This isn't a joke, it's real. But you're so right, we should value our names, especially when we live in a place where most people's names have no meaning.

  3. Love the post, My name is Ikechukwu and I find that when interacting with my patients or co-workers I have to abbreviate to Ik to make it easier for them. As I have gotten older I make sure they know how to say Ikechukwu before I allow them to call me Ik.

  4. Ikechukwu, I know exactly what you mean. My name is Chidinma and all through my years of school before college, I let people get by with just calling me Chichi. These days, however, I introduce myself as Chidinma, and only offer the nickname if someone asks if there's an easier version of my name... Lol...