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My Name is Ayotunde

They try to snob you when you don’t speak “proper” French or look down on you when you don’t speak the queens English. Then you have black Americans who look at Africans like we are from another planet with “speak English man” meaning I don’t sound American. 

So way back when I was a college student in Madison, Wisconsin I looked forward to the roll call of my first classes. I enjoyed watching the professors struggle with pronouncing my name and no I wasn’t going to make it easy on them like my friends who all of a sudden started using their christian names. 
Those that had no christian names went from Fatai to Fredrick or Mudashiru to Micheal or Bashiru to Bernard and so on. Muslims became Christians by default in the quest to fit in the American culture. So Peter, Paul, Micheal, Francis and John became the new vogue. 
It felt odd that when we roamed the streets of Ibadan I called him Lekan now in college and amongst our American friends I call him Bernard. So I used my classroom as the forum to teach Yoruba, my language. I knew the professors would always ask if they pronounced my name properly. I would always answer no then proceed to teach the class how to pronounce my name and the story behind my name. I always felt proud walking around campus and referred to as a Nigerian by fellow students, that in my name is my story. Then again it made me popular with the girls.
My name is


5 thoughts on “My Name is Ayotunde

  1. Reblogged this on Juju Films.

  2. Our local postmaster was called Mahmoud (London, England). The local senior citizens fondly called him George and insisted that was his real name. Mahmoud was pleased to with this, even proud of it. Acceptance is a great thing. The meaning often depends on the motive. We should always make them clear.
    Kind Regards G 🙂

  3. A name is so important. I taught several students from Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Botswana, Ethiopia, Egypt) and always called them by their African names. It was the Asian students who always wanted to adopt “American” names.

    1. Quite so. Although, I think Mahmoud liked being accepted by a whole group of elders who gave him an adoption name, just has he adopted the community.

      I suppose, in the end, it is about validating the the existence of others by respecting their wishes and feelings without requiring them to justify those things. It seems clear that you did that and I am sure made a difference to their lives. 🙂 🙂

  4. Powerful stuff. In America many immigrants wanted to assimilate and voluntarily changed their names, my great grandparents for instance. While the “native” Americans (who weren’t really native since they supposedly came from Siberia) were given Christian names when they enrolled in missionary schools. Names are so interesting.

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