Friday, November 23, 2012

Erosive Westernization

Challenges come so we can grow and be prepared for things we are not equipped to handle now. When we face our challenges with faith, prepared to learn, willing to make changes, and if necessary, to let go, we are demanding our power be turned on."
- Iyanla Vanzant, Yoruba priestess

  I love how she is a Yoruba priestess. I would love to hear how that came about, meanwhile we as Africans are running away from our traditional religions and beliefs. I think it's quite interesting.  A friend said something to me that just turned on a light bulb in my head. None of his siblings including himself have English names. They all have Edo first and middle names. I was wondering about that and he told me his father was against giving English names and he asked me if I had ever seen a white man give their child an African name. Simple question that blew my mind cos I had never thought about it that way. I'm sure if you look hard enough you will find one white person with an African name, but we all agree that's not the norm.

I had always thought, African name first, English middle name. My sister wanted to give her first child an English first name and African middle name, her husband fought against that and he got his way.  I am now of the opinion that my kids will not be getting an English name. We are slowly but surely losing our culture guys. I think it's a shame and one of the greatest atrocities committed against me by my parents that I cannot speak either of my parents language. None of us kids can. That is a part of my heritage that has been lost forever and I can't pass it on. I think it's a shame, really.

  This post was supposed to be about the quote but it veered off.

13 comments:

  1. Lol... I have an igbo first, middle, extra middle, and last name. I remember asking my mother why I didnt have an english name once too and she said the same thing 'when an english man gives his child an igbo name, then you'll get an english name'

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  2. Am naturally a lover of native names, I like the way they sound but I think its a good balance having both English and native name just in case you in a situation where the native name is being murder in pronunciation.

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  3. GBAM! I have 13 (or 17, I keep forgetting) Yoruba names, not a single English name, and I love it. I am not a fan of English names, and trust Nigerians to overdo any and everything. *rolling eyes* Even when I meet people (Africans), and they introduce themselves with English names, I go "What's ur village name?" People used to find it offensive before; woreva.

    If I have my way, My children will have Yoruba, Igbo, Itsekiri and Ashanti names, maybe one Chinese too.

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  4. I also do not have an English name, my dad didn't feel it was necessary. Now I live in the US, not sure yet about what I'll do with my kids. But for sure I'll teach them what I can of Igbo which I speak quite well.

    Love the quote.

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  5. that is so true. both parents are from edo state and I cant speak any language to save my life!. well except basic edo language from high school. I must give my babies native names and maybe learn a native language from God knows where.

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  6. So true. My father is the same way. Our situation was so 'bad' we weren't allowed to speak English in my house. My father asked if we had ever seen an English man speaking Yoruba to his children. I must admit he was right. I speak Ekiti, normal Yoruba, English and French fluently. My Ekiti-speaking father did not affect my English learning abilities since I learnt English in school. Suffice to say, my children will be getting 'konk' Yoruba names and will be speaking Ekiti in my house. There is this quote in No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe where he said:

    "But when he had to speak in English...he lowered his voice. It was humiliating to have to speak to one's country-man in a foreign language, especially in the presence of the proud owner of that language. They would naturally assume one had no language of one's own.... Let them come to Umuofia now and listen to the talk of men who made a great art of conversation...whose joy of life had not yet been killed by those who claimed to teach other nations how to live"

    Of course country-man here means the Igbo people :)

    However, my only concern is this: the world we live in is vastly different from the one our parents grew up. What if I end up marrying a 'white' man? How do I pass on my culture and traditions to my children? In the same No Longer at Ease, Chinua Achebe also wrote that "...Some of them even married white women. A man who does that is lost to his people. He is like rain wasted in the forest."

    Language is invariably tied to culture and traditions. When we lose our language, we lose our culture. I would do all I can to keep my language.

    P.S Sorry for my epistle.

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  7. Oh so Iyanla is yoruba? didnt know that, i follow her tweets.

    Yea i agree with u, we are slowly losing our traditional names. I noticed that even the African Americans dont give their kids the regular English names, they come up with their own unique names aka Tamika, Bonqueisha, Evontay, e.t.c. we ought to start embracing our native names.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think Iyanla is yoruba, i just think she's a yoruba prietesss whatever that means.

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    2. Iyan-la, big pounded yam, lol! Just kidding!

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  8. I have one english name and multiple yoruba names. MY english name is my first name and all the others are in the middle. I was named after my father due to an interesting turn of events. Apart from myself, my brothers were given english first names as well but their's has a direct relation to the bible not objects like flowers etc. therefore the names are english in the sense of spelling and langauge and NOT Culture...

    @ISHA Frankly, I am offended when someone asks for my name "mikki" and once told, they ask for my real name"... really wth.. do I need to show you my SScard before you call me by the name I gave you. My thought is always "does going by a none traditional name make me less of a nigerian/yoruba lady?!" my parents call me by my first given name and my older brother by his second. I believe its all a matter of preference but why should I give you -the person i just met- the right to call me what my parents dont even call me? IMO it is rude.
    Anyway...

    The only crime my parents have is not teaching my brothers and I our native tongue. When asked, my parents revealed that it was a decision that was only meant to be temporary but some how fell into routine...
    to that I say Oh well. It is now my responsibility to catch up and learn my language so that it is not lost. why continue to blame the parents? western people go out of their way to acquire foreign language but after english we africans sit and cross leg...

    I have a yoruba last name and God willing it will always be a traditional last name [or hubby will have to deal with a hyphenation].

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  9. I agree the western influence is very strong but I have to say it goes both ways
    I have white friends who prefer Naija/African parties; love visiting African cities and have African partners. No man is an island
    While my kids all have Nigerian names, I realise they are a mix of British and Nigerian. the key is ensuring they are proud of their Nigerian heritage - while still remaining proud of their 'Britishness'

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  10. Because so many people here seem to be forgetting this I'd just like to add the following

    Some of the Nigerians with "English names" have them because they come from Catholic families. As Catholics parents pick a name related to the church, often a saint's name and that is given during baptism and often included in birth certificates and other legal docs. I know that is why I have an English name which I rarely use whereas my sis only uses her English name.

    Not saying every Nigerian with an English name comes from a Catholic family, but I think if you asked people you might find that to be the case.

    Of course it is up to everyone what they want to name their children but I am picking English names for mine. I will even go so far as picking Igbo names that are easily "westernized" and shortened since I am planning to raise them in the US not Nigeria and as Naijamum said we have to recognize these kids will be a combination of two cultures. Even though they will be closer to the "Western" side of things.

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  11. My siblings and I have Portuguese names as our first names- my father's bid to preserve our heritage as my ancestors emigrated to Nigeria many years ago. We also have Youruba names which is what we have always been addressed by. (we're lagosians, my mum's Yoruba). Sadly although we were raised to understand Yoruba quite well, we struggle to speak it fluently. I regret that and I'm constantly working to improve it.
    Now raising my children in the U.K where there are negative subliminal messages about out colour and culture it has become even more urgent that my children are raised as proud Africans rich in culture.

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