Have You Abbreviated Your Nigerian Name To A Funky English Name?

My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means “The road is good.” Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” I said, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Without missing a beat, she said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.

Oh yes, I’m on the case of the Nigerians in my neck of the woods again. Why not? They keep on giving me reasons to write about them. My goodness, they never cease to amaze me. This group of how to pronounce Nigeria are very clever in many respects even when it comes to abbreviating their fine and meaningful Nigerian names to English names in an effort to avoid identification as a Nigerian or simply to avoid been asked to pronounce their names over and over by their American host.

Most Nigerians with long native [first] names know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m one of those with such long names as Tonye is but an abbreviation of an eleven letter name. But the abbreviation itself [Tonye] is still in my language and does not compromise the meaning of the full name. I can’t afford that for obvious reasons. Ha! Ha!! Ha!!!