If there is any important event for the parents of a new born baby, it is the naming ceremony. At such important ceremony, the father of the child (or whoever is responsible for naming the child) gives the name for which the child is to be known and addressed. Apart from the circumstances of the birth of the child, religion and culture influences the name given to every child at birth. As such, a mere glance at a person´s name, it is easier to determine his or her religion and cultural heritage.

In the Ancient Near East (Israel, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia), names were thought to be extremely powerful and act, in some ways, as a separate manifestation of a person or deity. For them, names had metaphysical signification. Right into the Old Testament, the names of individuals are meaningful (every name has a meaning and significance) and a change of name indicated a change of status. Every biblical name had a meaning and biblical characters were given names at birth that reflect something of significance or describe the course of their lives. Varied examples abound.

In the Christian dispensation, new names are given to Christians at Baptism (also at confirmation) to reflect their new Christian status.  With the advent of modern civilization there was a systematization of names. Now at least a person´s official name must contain two names: his own personal name and surname. Both names now consist a person´s identity. The number of names may vary from one culture to another. In all of these, there is nothing as valuable to a person as his name. For instance: “My name is Valentine Umoh.” The first is my baptismal name which have become my first name, personal name and perhaps the most common. The second is my Surname, what is now referred to as Family name. The culture I come from allow us to use our Father´s first name as middle name. In that case my official name becomes: Valentine Anthony Umoh. That is my name and I value it.

I am writing this because I want you to know or to remind you that “there is something in a name; there is beauty in a name.” Be proud of your name! If there is anything we cannot control, it is birth. Birth is a given because life is a given. You do not decide where to be born, or to which culture to be born into, neither to what family nor to which parents. Those are the givens of life. You need to be proud of your religion, family and culture. These are perfectly reflected and engraved in your name.

Yes, there might as well be a case, where a child grows up and feels uncomfortable with the name he or she was given at birth and decides to change it. Well and good! But to whatever name you change into be proud about and live with it. There is something in a name.

I find the current trend of people twisting the spellings of their names or preferring some school nicknames to their real names quite unfortunate. For me, it shows the lack of understanding of the metaphysical undertones behind the giving of names. You can find this readily on Facebook and other social media. It is a trend that needs to be checked, if not we will lose something as valuable as personal identity which in this case is represented by names.

Your name is the most important aspect of your self-identity, self-image and self-esteem. I am tempted to suppose that those who twist or change their names on Social Media like Facebook are either Fraudsters, scammers or they have a false sense of identity, low-self esteem or inferiority complex. So, are you ashamed to let people know that your surname is ASUQUO, ETIM, OKON, UKOHA, UMEH or ABUBAKAR? What are you ashamed of? Your religion, your family, your language or ethnicity or culture? That is too bad. You know what? You can´t really change that, so you got to live with it. Attempting to change that by twisting the spelling of your name or preferring your nickname is like living a false life. Be proud of your name. Let the world know that is your name. Or are you afraid of the world? Then you better not be born at all.

Changing your name to: Psquare, TuFace, Shakira, Beyonce, Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez, Baby, Sugar, Noble, Princess, Buhari, Saraki etc doesn’t really change your metaphysical composition neither does it change your true identity as that Oron girl, Annang boy, Igbo girl, Tiv girl, Hausa boy, etc. It only reflects that you are suffering from a false sense of selfhood and personhood! Those models have made their names and written their names on the signs of times. They didn’t borrow your name, they used theirs. Try to also use your name and make it known (popular if you like). If you are not proud of your name, no one will! If you don’t make it known, no one will! Don’t forget that your name is your identity.

One last note. The last time I checked English adjectives do not qualify as proper names of persons (Anthroponym), they are always Proper nouns. This is a reminder to those who add: sweet, hot, sexy, noble, etc to their names. These are adjectives which also could be used as complements and not as names of persons. Again! What name is there in your international passport, voters card, National ID, WAEC certificate and Baptism Card? Those are your true identity in case you have forgotten. Let those names reflect on your social media platforms and be proud of your name. There is something in a name, do not change or twist the spelling of your name for nothing, nor trade your true identity for what is trending. What is trending doesn’t last: Your true identity is your identity. Learn to value what you have. Value your name and make it known.  

“A person who can´t be proud of his or her name and age is living a false life!”

Valentine Umoh