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Moses Obroku: What Is in a Name?



Names are what we are known by, a means of identification distinguishing one individual from another. Names are so powerful, they can open doors for you or firmly slam them permanently shut in your face! On a deeper level, names (like Endurance or Patience) are sometimes given to people according to the prevailing circumstances their parents had or were passing through or a commemoration of some big event or world activity (like Christmas, Easter or even New Year). One of my aunts was called Queen because she was born about the time Queen Elizabeth visited Nigeria.

Occasionally, names are given with only rhyme and rhythm in mind like North West! On a spiritual note, names connote wishes the parents may have for their child as he/she journeys through life. Sometimes, they are given as tribute to God or gods in gratitude for what parents have benefitted from such deities. In this regard, African names are replete with spiritual connotations. Their profound meanings usually tell a story. I am a fan of African names.

Often times, people tend to behave according to the meaning of their names. I do not know if it is an agreement in the supernatural concerning the meanings such names carry or some more sinister reason; but we have seen how folks like Jacob in the bible (meaning ‘supplanter’) that outsmarted his older brother and took his birth right before God changed his name to Israel. Nabal (meaning ‘fool’ in 1 Samuel 25:25) was foolish enough to disrespect a warlord like David who had been kind to him, thereby invoking imminent annihilation but for his wife’s timely intervention.

How ever we look at it, names are a vital part of our lives and play a great role in how things turn out for us. Come to think of it, since we were born, we have been called by our names several times a day over the years and each time we respond to such calls, we agree in spirit to the meanings of our names; thereby unconsciously shaping our destinies. Has anyone ever wondered about the coincidence between Usain Bolt’s surname and his being the fastest man alive now? Remember as fast as lightning; a bolt of lightning? Catch my drift? I used to have a cousin called Kennedy. He was born when President John Kennedy became President of the United States and was named after him. Sadly In 2001, he was tragically shot to death in the United States where he resided, just like JFK. Ever heard of the Kennedy curse?
On a lighter note, is anyone in doubt why the man who controls the gates to dollar bills is the richest man in the world? With a name like Bill Gates, I am not.

I know a fellow called Endurance. While I do not know why his folks called him that, he has sure endured too much in life. The one they call Tompolo, do we realize his first name is actually Government? Any wonder why he has been engaging Nigerian Governments through the years in various aspects.

We naturally find some names appealing and readily assume them, give them to children or loved ones. Other names, we find repulsive and almost a taboo. While names like Angel, Ayo, Beyoncé, Chimamanda, Denzel, Emmanuel, Ijeoma, Onome, Oyinlola, Sharon, Teslimat, Zainab and Zion, are quite inviting; but as nice as Lucifer sounds I have not seen anyone called that, or Jezebel. I am also not certain that anyone wants to name their child after history’s nasty characters like Hitler, Idi Amin, Mobutu or even Abacha.

When we call children names that portend futuristic achievements, we really need to seriously consider how they may affect their destinies. If your name is one of such that is proclaiming things will be well tomorrow and you’re an adult struggling through life without getting significant results today, you may want to seriously consider a name change; declaring instead that things must be well now.
I do concede however, that a beautiful name with a positive meaning all by itself, is not enough to give anyone the good life without the commensurate hard work and many other factors.
But if you think all the foregoing is nothing other than higi haga crinkum crankum gargantuan gaga (non -Nigerian readers please look up ‘Patrick Obahiagbon’) think about the man called ‘Goodluck’ and tell me you don’t truly believe names play a major role in our lives.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Mimagephotography

Aside from being a lawyer, migration management expert, security personnel and fitness buff; there are many other sides to me. I am also a self -proclaimed foodie (and oh yes, to complement that, I can cook!). Of course, writing is my passion and I have a mission to inspire my world, one person at a time. I can be reached on [email protected] Instagram: @mosesobroku


  1. oy

    April 22, 2015 at 9:13 am

    lol, great article. my name is sweet and i respond to its meaning everytime i answer.

  2. lene b

    April 22, 2015 at 9:24 am

    My course mate name is expensive, another one name is holliness ,dat she commit sin pass.

  3. Ocean Beauty

    April 22, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Just saw someone who’s name is Circuit and now I am ready this article. What did the parents have in mind when naming him circuit?
    In my opinion, names play an part of one’s destiny sometimes but not all the time. In fact in my immediate family, you can change your first name as many times as you wish but the surname stays. I tell the name changers that it’s their business. For me I attach enough importance to my own name because it works for me.
    Do not cuss me out for talking about what happens in my family. Thank you

  4. Joy Atwooki

    April 22, 2015 at 10:08 am

    what could my baby’s name mean Noel, to me it was in line with Jesus, the King of Israel

  5. DAME

    April 22, 2015 at 10:30 am

    I knew someone in uni who’s name is ECSTASY

    LMAO…i always laughed ..the parents must have had a swell time to have transferred the feeling on the girl


    April 22, 2015 at 10:40 am


  7. Holyghost

    April 22, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Try being named Holyghostfire. Btw that pic looks so much like Jesse

    • oy

      April 22, 2015 at 11:30 am

      hahahahha. that’s hilarious

    • jeo

      April 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

      lool cuz its jesse lol

  8. iyke

    April 22, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Much ado about nothing!
    No, names are not a vital part of our lives and it doesn’t play a great role in how things turn out for us!
    You MUST understand that the name your parents give you when you’re born is a temporary name, which you have no control over. I know a lot of people who don’t like their names and wish they had a different name.
    Remember that it is your fundamental human right to change it if you don’t like it. The name your folks gave you legally expires on your eighteenth birthday. You can choose to keep the name, or take up any one you like.

    • iyke

      April 22, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      lol, don’t get me wrong here. Names I agree have power and effects on people but these are prejudices which don’t actually determine the personality of the person. And of course,I’d like to give my child the gift of a unique name.

  9. Teslimat

    April 22, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    I’m “commenting” just because my name is in the article. ..Lol.

    I agree with you that at times, people just give names because it sounds nice. I think this was the case with my parents. I was actually named Teslim. It was later that they realized that I should have been named Teslimat/Taslimat. Teslim/Taslim is the male version in Islam.

    Luckily, the name does not have a bad meaning. It means submission to God’s will…

    What is in a name? For me it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s nice and doesn’t subject your kid to bullying at the playground (before the kid can legally change it).

    Anyho, who am I to complain? I have so many given names (not nicknames) it depends on the member of the family that is calling me..though, I try to oscillate between 2 in my formal affairs 🙂

  10. J

    April 25, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I have to say I do agree with u

  11. Daniel okwena

    April 26, 2015 at 9:11 am

    My take on d purport of names could be quite atrocious though. But I must say that we have seen fellas with pleasant well meaning names live and lead the most unfortunate lives, and vice versa. So I feel names do not in any way affect the way a person’s destiny turns out. I am more particular about the length and sound of names than what they infact mean. The shorter and nicer sounding, the better. My mother’s name (the ‘Queen’ referred to in the article under review) was one of such names. Lol. Calling a child Lucy or Lucifer is immaterial. Who knows, the Lucifer may turn out to be an angel of light!

  12. Glory

    April 27, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    It is important to give meaningful names, I personally will not name my kids any name that had no positive meaning all because it sounds nice to the ear…. Names are very power and patents should give attention to that fact…… Most people bear names based on the circumstances that surrounds their birth just the writer had rightly pointed out. Most of our parents did not do much justice to that and that had resulted to most people I know changing their names afterwards…..


    April 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm


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