I remember this question very vividly whilst growing up. Usually, my paternal grandmother, (the surviving grand parent), was always on standby with native names for the grand children. Consequently, I pondered on this as the cycle repeated itself with each new birth in the family. At some point, I learnt It’s part of The Igbo tradition. A sign of respect, this is also practised by Yorubas and other Nigerian tribes.

However, this tradition is at the risk of “extinction”. Most modern couples alienate their patents in this very central and emotional “ritual” if you would call it so. “Maka gini”?

Why write this article?

Fact 1

I am an advocate of involving grandparents while choosing a name for The grandchild. It reinforces communal life and deep respect. After all, that you do for your parents will be revisited onto you.

Fact 2

Daily, our tradition is being watered down by modernisation and colonial affiliations. Hence, I fear that The Millennials are not being educated enough or made aware of their heritage. Not surprisingly, my son thinks it’s weird that anyone other than himself should be consulted in naming his child. The narratives didn’t convince him, can you imagine? The discussion is ongoing. It’s time he visited his grandpa…

Fact 3

Unfortunately, families are no longer as inclusive as the good old days; when men now were boys lol. The backbone of our uniqueness is the extended family unit. I now see it, and very clearly too. The lone and exclusive living of the west is not a tonic for longevity and happy living.

Fact 4

Finally, I would imagine that “growing old” has its limitations. Therefore, any boost to a sense of purpose and accomplishment should be given to the Grans.

What thinketh thee, my noble reader?

In our case...

Unsurprisingly, when our first child arrived, my Father-in-law was ready with his name. Also, other family members gave their choice of a name (a very long list). The beauty of this practice is reinforcing the belief that the child belongs to the community. Although, the names given by the grandparents are adopted in most cases, it does not undermine the parents choice. A child can have more than one native name.

To the best of my knowledge, my native name from my paternal granny is Ogochukwu. However, as the first daughter in the family, I’m automatically Adaobi.

In Conclusion, grandparents inclusiveness could.......

  1. Encourage the use and retention of native names.
  2. Help the younger generation promote extended family and inclusive living.
  3.  Ensures the child gets a meaningful and traditional name.
  4.  Embrace our uniqueness, shun the bandwagon lifestyle