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Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral

What’s in a name?

A name indicates a person, place or thing. It may reflect why a person bear it. For instance, one can say Akpan, the first born or Judy, the mechanic. So a name can serve as a trait, feature or attribute.

In African culture, people name their children after circumstances they passed through, events they evidenced or situations they find themselves in.

In the Igbo culture for instance, a tribe predominantly known to love and worship Chukwu, Chi or Chineke (God) value is placed on names linked to God’s name. So most Igbo names are attached to God. If you are familiar with Chinua Achebe’s and Chimamanda Adichie’s literature you will agree that there’s rich display of cultural names in African literary works. Names like Okechukwu, Uchechukwu, Chima, Chioma, Ekechukwu, Ikechukwu, Ogochukwu, Chidinma, Chukwuebuka, Chukwuemeka etc bear names of God and then what He did or a character of Him.

My name, Okechukwu means ‘My share from God‘. A typical Igbo name, suggesting that I am the share of God’s goodness in my family. Isn’t that beautiful?

Let’s look at the name Uchechukwu. Uche mean thoughts, wisdom or understanding depending on the usage. Chukwu, Chi and Chineke, as I mentioned before means God. So the name can go like this: Uchechi, Uchechineke and so on. But the most used is Uchechukwu which can be shortened to Uche or Uc meaning The Thought(s) of God. It can also be said to mean the will of God. There are variants in the name too. Uchennam means my Father’s will. As Nna in Igbo mean Father.

Consider another name, Obinna, Obinnaya or even Obichukwu (the Father’s/God’s heart/mind). This name is common in the East of Nigeria. Just like the biblical David who was tagged a man after God’s heart so is the name Obinna or Obichukwu or Obieze (King’s Heart). Amaka means Beautiful and Ebube is Glory.

Let us consider this name Chukwuemeka. Chukwu means God and Emeka translates to ‘has done it‘. So joining the two literally we have God has done it.Let’s talk about Chika or Chukwuka. A name translated to God is the Greatest! Also Chukwubuikem, a beautiful name which means God is my strength. Consider the name Chukwuebuka. Translated to God is the biggest or strongest.

Learn Igbo language and culture here.

You may want to adopt a Nigerian name for yourself. Stay safe everyone.

By Oke Iroegbu

Finance Graduate, Bibliophile and Bard of Ovim, his hometown. Read more at www.oiroegbu.com/about

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