What’s In A Name?

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I’m facing a dilemma and running out of time friends. This is no small decision – it could literally impact the life and destiny of another human being. I don’t mean to sound so dramatic but I’m being for real here!

I am facing the question all parents face at one point or the other:

What will we name our child?

To give you some context, I am a Nigerian, living in Canada. More specifically, I am Yoruba, and our culture places HUGE emphasis on the names given to children. A Yoruba name essentially tells a story. Traditionally, it’s a story of the circumstance around the time of birth. A name is also thought to shape a child’s destiny.

For a list of Yoruba names and their meanings, click here.

The issue for me is, I have fallen in love with a name that is 12 letters and 7 syllables long! On top of that, our first daughter received over 40 names from our family members as it is also a Yoruba tradition that the child be named by family.   Needless to say, we are having a hard time finding an alternative to this name that we love.

For some reason we didn’t have this dilemma with our first… We loved a name and decided on it fairly early on in the pregnancy.

But since then, the reality of how one’s name can affect one’s interaction with others has hit us. Especially a “foreign-sounding” name.

So our daughter’s name has 11 letters and 6 syllables. We generally shorten it, except when she is in trouble – I think this is common practice in many households. Lol.

But even the shortened version gives non-Nigerians a challenge. If it’s not being mispronounced, it’s being mistaken for a similar-sounding ‘Canadian’ name… One I don’t even like! At all!

We honestly did not foresee any of this before we named our first child. But knowing all this now, with our second, I am thinking of all the reasons why this name we love may not be a very good idea.

Personally I have been called Yolanda, Rwanda, Yowandi, Wandi and all sorts of names that aren’t Yewande (Pronounced Yay-wan-day). I once resorted to teaching my classmates a mnemonic at some point but it just confused them more. It irks me when people mispronounce my name but it has definitely not affected my self-esteem.

But I am an immigrant and the pronunciation of my name was never an issue growing up until I left Nigeria. By then, at age 14, I was already pretty comfortable with my own name. So much so that when people asked for a short form or a nickname, I told them I didn’t have one… It’s Yewande or nothing. Lol.

On the other hand my children are/will be Canadian-born. My daughter is not even two yet and this name thing is ALREADY an issue for us.


Do we just go for it and educate our children on how beautiful their names are, and teach them to be proud? This is tough to do, knowing they will have to constantly correct their teachers, friends, strangers and basically everyone they will introduce themselves to. I worry this might impact their self-esteem and how they perceive themselves.

Will their names subject them to ridicule on the playground? Will it impact their confidence and willingness to introduce themselves to other people?

What about further down the line? Names have a way of creating bias in other people’s minds. Will this affect their ability to make friends? Get acceptance to schools of their choice? Find a job?

It’s a little unfair that this is even an issue right?! But that’s another discussion for another day.

Time is ticking and this baby needs a name… If you have any suggestions, do let me know!



Published by

Yéyé Fadoju

I'm a Nigerian woman living in Canada who is learning, growing and taking steps towards becoming the best version of myself. I'm here to share what has helped me, hoping I can help others too.

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