Yesterday Obianuju asked where I got Chynanu from and it hit me that the inspiration behind my WordPress and even blogger (I really should do a wordpress.com vs blogger.com post seeing that I use both) monikers are not as clear to everyone as they are to me.
Chynanu comes from the name Chinanuekpere which is my middle name/baptismal name, surprised? Aren’t baptismal names supposed to be names of saints or at least foreign names? In the Anglican doctrine, your baptismal name has to be a Christian name but it is not limited to saint’s names or foreign names. If an indigenous name fits, you can use it and it doesn’t have to be a “chi name”, my father’s middle name is Ngozi without Chi or Chukwu prefix or suffix. I also do not have any foreign (English name) neither do any of my brothers or my parents for that matter.
Ironically, neither of my grandfathers had Igbo names, all their names were foreign. I guess that’s why they didn’t saddle their children with foreign names, they probably wanted to make up for that (I’d have to ask my parents because it just occurred to me that I don’t even know why neither of them have foreign names). My parents had told us earlier that it didn’t occur to them to give us foreign names because they wanted names that would be a reflection of the circumstances of our births and their wish for each child and they didn’t feel foreign names would do those desires any justice.
I am Chinanuekpere (there’s a longer version but I don’t want to twist your tongues) because my parents were praying for a child for a while before God gave them the fabulous gift that became me. Chinanuekpere means God hears prayers, it is synonymous to Chinazaekpere which means God answers prayers- see same thing! My brothers have fabulous middle names too, one of them is Chikezirim (one of my favourite names in this world) it means God created me well/properly and the other (the youngest and my baby) is Chibuzo which means God is the way (I named him Chibuzo, see the story behind it HERE).
When I was nine or ten, I desperately wanted an “English name”. I went to my paternal grandfather (my grandparents lived in Lagos at the time) and asked him to give me a name because my parents weren’t interested in giving me one, my dad gave me this African theory that I neither understood or wanted to hear at the time. After deliberating with my grandfather, we decided on Crystal after rejecting some truly dreadful names including Gretel (he said he liked the name) and Hannah. I was happy that I’d finally gotten a foreign name and I wouldn’t be termed a bush girl.
I have gone 180° on the matter and no longer refer to myself as Crystal, I’d tell you with no small amount of pride that I do not have a foreign name and that’s that. I don’t know if I’d give my children foreign names, I don’t think I will though because there are so many Igbo names that flit through my mind when I think about my future children and if Le Boo is not Igbo… we’d have to give them beautiful names from his culture
Tomorrow Obianuju would be my guest here and her piece is funny, wise and beautiful, biko don’t forget to read and drop a comment.
P.S My first name is Adaeze which is really short for Adaezenwa, it means The first daughter of Ezenwa (my father’s name is Ezenwa) and Ezenwa means king among children if the bearer is a child and if the bearer is an adult it means He who became king as a child. Adaeze means the first daughter of a king and it is a full name on its own. Adaezenwa is my name on blogger and it is the only name my maternal grandmother calls me.
PPS: My dad just told me that he and his wife don’t have foreign names because they are Africans and have never seen a white man bearing an African name… Funny answer innit?