Your baby’s name is ‘Jesu nikan ni mo gboju le’? (‘My faith stands on Jesus alone’) – Tola Adenle

July 6, 2014


I was fascinated with a story of a child whose passport application was rejected in Iceland because of her name (see below).

While names in my native land Nigeria vary with each ethnic group, Yorubaland has always been known to give names that tell stories: of the circumstance of the child’s birth –  a child born while the dad is away is Abidemi; in the past; of the hopes of the parents for a first male child – Kolawole, although a first male child long ago was given  Dawodu apart from his other names which culture spilled over to Nigeria’s oldest tertiary institution, the St. Andrew’s College, Oyo where the first student to be registered at the [then] new Oyo Campus after the college’s move from Abeokuta where it was founded in the 4th decade of the 19th Century, The Rev. Atande Alalade would later be known as Dawodu/Daodu to all subsequent students.

The circumstance of joy always features in male and female children: Ayodele, Ayodeji,Ayowunmi, et cetera are common names for boys and girls.  There are many other circumstances that could and still dictate children’s names which is why Yoruba say Ile l’a nwo k’a to s’ọmọ l’orukọ – A child’s name derives from the circumstances of his/her birth.

Not any more and perhaps among many reasons are two main ones:  religion and “civilization” for want of any other suitable description.

Young Christian couples are now in the habit of giving their babies names that are Christian sayings.  As I won’t want to give names that readily come to mind so that I do not offend people I know, I’ll make a couple up that shows the extent to which religion – not necessarily faith – is taken seriously in Nigeria:  Jesu nikan ni mo gboju le – My faith stands on Jesus alone and Ojojumọ l’emi yio ma ke pe ọ, Oluwa– I will call on You/Your name daily, o my God!

I once asked the parents of a child with one of these new names what to call the baby!

Most Muslims in Yorubaland also give their babies regular Yoruba names, and among the educated, they use the religious and Yoruba names but among those not educated, I discovered that many do not want to have anything to do with their Yoruba names!  I’ve met many Yoruba Muslim artisans who claim they do not have any Yoruba names – regular or oriki (praise names) – which is impossible.

I have now concluded that they are probably in the same category with the Yoruba Christians who give their babies mouthful Bible/Christian verses as names.


Check out these two stories and learn which country forbids baby names  that are not gender-sensitive & which names are banned in some other countries.



NOTE:  Above title was patterned along one of Faith Deleola Daramola’s essays, “Your child’s name is Nigeria”? published here a while back.


SUNDAY, JULY 6, 2014. Noon [GMT]





, , , , ,


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: