If you do not speak Igbo fluently, there’s no way you can pronounce the title of this post correctly. My great-grandmother named me Ulonwadianaghiejioyi when I was barely three months old. My parents had brought me to the village to be baptised (it was during the Easter holiday) and she was coming to see me when she heard my wailings from the road- it is family legend that I was a champion at crying back then.
The road to my grandparents’ house was very quiet (it still is, usually) and it was obvious to my great-grandma that the sounds she was hearing from our house was indeed the cries of the new baby- my father’s youngest sibling was already in his twenties when I was born. So she muttered to herself “a home with a child cannot be quiet/cold”- that’s what that long name means and when she carried me for the first time, she gave me that name (she had a name for each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and she never repeated a name)
There are many “cold” homes today, in Nigeria, in the world. Cold not by choice- it is perfectly OK to choose not to have children, whether permanently or temporarily. These cold homes are due to infertility- with or without cause or simply because there is only participant available in the procreation process- yes I am talking about the “mature singles”.
Even as a child I never understood how a couple would be married for twenty years without a child when there are children in orphanages, crying and praying for parents to love them. I still do not understand why people would say “we waited on the lord for twenty years without a child until he answered us,” when they could have brought children into their homes to love and care for.
Why do we find adoption a taboo topic here, the couples who go on to adopt even do so secretly. I know several where the women faked pregnancies and only succeeded in deceiving themselves that they actually were delivered of babies. Is it our culture that’s the problem or what?
How about the many people who get married simply because they want to have children to take care of them in their old age (I think if that’s the only reason you want to have kids, then you’re on a long thing (please google D’banj if you are a nonNigerian reading this) because that is not even guaranteed). Why can’t they adopt children? And save themselves and their potential spouses the misery of an unhappy marriage- many of those marriages are battlefields, trust me.
Oh! I almost forgot that it is easier for the camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for an unmarried individual to successfully adopt children in Nigeria, the processes involved will break your resolve and you cannot adopt a child of the opposite sex. They want to reduce the chances of abuse especially of the sexual variety- my father explained to me, but I wondered at that line of reasoning because even biological parents abuse their children (it’s more common that you’d thought).
I just reread this post and I think I sound too idealistic, too far removed from reality… But who reality don help?
PS: My great-grandma Janet- the one who gave me a sentence of a name departed this world in 2004, she was the most fabulous great-grandma in the history of great-grandparents. She named Obinna, Onyedikachi and Ikenna- Chidiebere.