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What’s in a name?

#baby names#H.E.R.#skip Marley#slow down#vrai locsby Lian OkolieMay 25th, 2020

Baby names


When I had my second child , my husband didn’t understand the amount of time it took for me to actually decide on my list of names. Not that he came up with his ideas in the blink of an eye, but it didn’t take him long. He’s French and for him and his family a name is just a name, it doesn’t mean anything. You just pick a name you like and that’s it. His family aren’t unique in that sense, there are many people out there who feel the same way. I am not one of them.

Where I come from, a name has meaning. My parents were born in Nigeria and my Nigerian name ‘Nkechinyelu’ (Nke-Chi-Nye-lu) means ‘what God gave you’ or ‘a gift from God’. Members of my family call me Nkechi (Nke-Chi) which means Gods own. Every name has a meaning, there’s no name that’s just a name, that doesn’t mean anything. Regardless of what it is, it comes from a particular language and the words strung together mean something. That’s why Nigerian names can be long, because, some of them, are in effect phrases. So when I was thinking of names for my daughter that was where I was coming from.

Names have to mean something, what do these names mean? I easily chose her Nigerian name which was my mums name ‘Ngozi’ which means ‘Blessing’. Her first name was the issue, so I looked through all sorts of resources, various: books; apps and websites searching for the perfect name. I concentrated on Hebrew names, I have faith so I guess I wanted a name similar to mine that referenced God or a higher being/power and speaks to being cared for or being a gift. Something with positive connotations and significance. Eventually I did come up with a name. By the time I was 6 months pregnant we had locked down a name

It was one of those things, when I saw the name I knew that was it. You may know someone who whilst pregnant said they were waiting till the child was born to decide on the name eg. He looks like a David or an Ike. I on the other hand knew in that instant that this was my baby’s name. When I told my partner, he knew it too. We named her ‘Maïa’, which is Hebrew, a variant of Micah, and it means ‘Close to God’.

When it came to our last born it was a different story, she arrived and we didn’t have a name, not for lack of trying, it’s just that nothing seemed right. I remember on the day of her birth the nurses asked me for her name, they needed it for their files and her bracelet. They said I could change it later since I wasn’t sure so I gave them ‘Mia’. I grew accustomed to it and started to like it, it meant ‘wished for child’. Alas, it was not meant to be, my partner thought it was too similar to Maïa, so the search continued. When she was about 2 weeks old we eventually decided on ‘Mika’ which means ‘gift from God’ (Just like mine).

If you’re in the position where you’re trying to find a name for your child, I would say, think of all the good things you want for your child and give them a befitting name i.e a name that encapsulates all of that. It doesn’t have to be long, for example Maïa isn’t long, and it could be in a different language, after all you wouldn’t know Maïa was a Hebrew name.

Culturally I was raised to understand that names have significance, what you name your child has an impact on who they become. I intend to pass that on, amongst other things, to my children and my children’s children etc. No shade on anyone who wants to name their child Mercedes or Trump Towers... Do you!

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