By Moyinoluwa Okunloye
Here in my part of the world, names are often given to children based on circumstances around the birth of the child or even, the feelings of the parents and family members at the time. But my names hardly gave anything away about the circumstances surrounding my birth. My names proved to me the cliché that when “a child comes into the world, there’s just pure joy; nothing else matters.”
Though I did not see a pamphlet on which the names were printed (there’s always a pamphlet for almost every child). I am not very sure if any was made for me. As a matter of fact, I cannot remember the many names that my Mum have attributed to me (sometimes, I think she just makes them up), but the ones that have stuck with me I love.
I love that I was named OLUWAFEYISIKEMI. It literally means “God gave this to pamper me.” I especially love that it captures all my Mum’s emotions, thoughts, and relief. I acknowledge that although she had no clue how raising me was going to be, she thought me a gift enough and no matter what hell was falling, that was OK. I love that name so much (It also rhymes with my Mum’s name, Oluwafeyisayomi). It is just a beautiful name.
I cherish my name, OPEMIPO for it is just a beautiful representation of thanks. I love that no matter how hard life seem, I could always refer to my name and say, “I am so thank full.” Such meaning a name has and such inspiration. This name captures the prophecy and affirmation that TEMITOPE speaks. These names are my testimony, they are my resort, my affirmations, the strength, the reasons to rejoice and the consciousness that there is always something to be grateful for. And I almost forgot my favourite, MOYINOLUWA. This one I truly love and I might even say revere. It is personal; it is my state of mind and my aspirations. It is also my pronouncement yesterday, right now as I write and tomorrow: “I praise God.”
I get to also be called ESTHER which is a testament to the fact that I was born around Easter. Although such a cliché, I acknowledge and love that I can be worthy of bearing a name significant with one of the most powerful trailblazers in the Bible.
I gave myself OLANIKE at a young age when I felt my name “’Sikemi” was starting to mean something different from what it was intended. I grew up with my grandma and I was already being “pampered” too much to the point that I did not think I needed a reminder. Hence, the birth of Olanike, which means “wealth is to be pampered (excellent choice considering I didn’t want a reminder of how I was being pampered (lol). But I just wanted something different).” Knowing my Yoruba family, this name has been thwarted, prorated, abbreviated, and revised even worse than Oluwafeyisikemi, to the point that I had to drop it as my official name. however, I love it. I love what it represents more than its meaning. It shows self – awareness for me. The decision for it at such a young age facing my uncles, aunties, grandma and grandpa is something that continues to stay with me. It is a decision that reminds me that I can do absolutely anything that I commit myself to. I am such a treasure.
I love my surname, OKUNLOYE. It is a big name that I feel extremely blessed to be associated with. Many mighty men and women have and still are linked with this name. The meaning, “The sea is chieftain” is something that I absolutely cherish. This name I have worn with pride even at the time when it almost felt like a burden. It is a name that carries certain prestige that you almost feel indebted to live to do it good. It is more of a badge than a name; a badge of honour more for the amazing extended families that I get to share it. It links to my root, my reminder of the availability of an army. A proof that I belong somewhere. Something to show that I can never be alone. A name to do proud every day, OKUNLOYE.
I am absolutely grateful for the depth of all my names. I especially cannot overlook the fact that they all speak of the depth of my tribe, Yoruba. I am blessed to carry these amazing names and thinking about their gravitas makes me tremble. I feel like break-dancing. Hallelujah!!!!
Photo template: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.