Sunday 27 July 2008

A child's right to a good name

Funnily a goat’s leg

Mr. and Mrs Ese would have been utterly chuffed when their baby boy arrived hale and hearty with mother well and almost ready to go home.

On the 7th day, there was a naming ceremony and baby Ese was given the first name, Aaron, the name of the great priest, the elder brother of Moses the leader of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery under the Egyptians in the Bible.

That would have been the end of the matter as the boy grew into an adolescent and prepared for manhood. The Ese family was from the South Eastern part of Nigeria and they moved to the South Western part of Nigeria where Yoruba is spoken.

An unfortunate situation occurred where in the school register the surname is called before the first name such that the non-descript name combination yielded Ese, Aaron which to the unassuming Yoruba ear sounded like what translates to goat’s leg.

The jokes never end

That Aaron became the big joke through no fault of his, but the accident of being given names that in another part of the country sounded utterly ridiculous. I am sure he has found ways to live through that situation and gone on to become a successful man full of confident, self-esteem and the ability to laugh off what could easily have been a harrowing experience for some.

The parents can well be forgiven, but I do worry about parents who forget that their new born children are not pets, not toys and definitely not dolls to be given names that bring unnecessary ridicule to hapless and helpless kids that they are subjects of bullying before they have had the chance to express themselves.

Contextually, one would expect parents to pick names after extensive research and analysis, making sure whatever names they give do have a sense of meaning and quality that allows the children to feel confident in themselves and confident amongst their peers.

What names say of the parents

However, some names do make one question the suitability of those parents to enter into responsible parenthood.

A court in New Zealand made a young girl a ward of court [Source: BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | NZ judge orders 'odd' name change] to get her name changed from Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii to something less atrocious. Even if the child was conceived in a dark alley after a drunken night out with a street tramp having the amazing good fortune to give a humping, the child does deserve better.

It is amazing that this trend for giving children utterly bizarre names has lead to officials refusing to accept on official documents names like Yeah Detroit; Stallion; Twisty Poi; Keenan Got Lucy; Sex Fruit; Fat Boy; Cinderella Beauty Blossom; Fish and Chips for twins.

Others that have been allowed are no less atrocious and unfortunate like Violence; Number 16 Bus Shelter; Midnight Chardonnay; Benson and Hedges for twins. Whilst a child cannot choose its birth parents, no greater misfortune can belie a child as to be the offspring of people lacking in inspiration and consideration.

This is most unkind

Number 16 Bus Shelter must be the unkindest gift of a parent to a child; it does not however absolve parents who are not on the extreme from thinking through the names they give their children for uniqueness, meaning and relevance to their life and culture.

Giving a child the starting right to be proud of their identity, heritage and background whilst reinforcing their personality cannot be a bad thing, names alien to that background say nothing for child and much less of the parents who probably have been plucked from their roots and dumped on barren ground where they are trying to hard to belong without being welcomed.

Much as an animal that has a name would almost definitely never end up in the pot, so should children be given names that would make them bless their parents all their lives.

Give your child a good start and ditch those fanciful and atrocious names, respect the person of the child, it is the least you can do as a responsible parent.

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