Culture, Ethnicity, Lifestyle, Religion

Nigerians and foreign first names – something dey worry una!

Usually, I do not care about whatever name a father decides to christen his child. He can name the child Hitler, Pol Pot, Anini or Ivan The Terrible; I don’t care. It’s none of my business. But when a loi-loi-eating Nigerian father looks down joyously upon his chortling newborn and decides to name him ‘Heineken’, then I’ve got to weigh in. 

Heineken. Really, daddy? A beer? Nine months in your tummy, mummy, and you allow him name me after a beer? You guys might as well have named me 33. 

This Heineken chap; that is not his nickname or a term of endearment. No. It is the name on his birth certificate. Curiously, neither he nor his parents are German or Dutch. They are all proud Izon, or as popularly known, Ijaw.

By the way, I looked up the meaning of Heineken. It means “son of little Hein” (Henry). But I don’t think Heineken’s dad was named Hein. Nein. The man wasn’t little.

You see, in Africa, people’s names are not whimsical blasé appellations. We don’t wake up and name a child Hooty McOwlface. In Africa, people’s names have weight and depth, even a metaphysical import to them. Our names tell stories. They signal the culture, beliefs, circumstances of birth and hope for the future.

Now, there is also this bloke in another clan. His name is Pentecost. Like “the-day-of- Pentecost” Pentecost. His parents are devout. But not Pentecost. If he is spirit-filled, it is often with kai-kai. This bloke knows all the brothels and watering holes between Warri and Diobu Water Side. 

I love Ijaw people. I did my NYSC in riverine Bayelsa and it was one of the best times of my life. But there must be something evil in the water they drink. For why will proud tribespeople like the Ijaw rise and give their children such fiendishly hilarious names?  

Government. Advantage. Suffernomore. Thywillbedone, Election. Colonel. Consider. Inspector. Appearance. Boysdaddy. UpJesus. 

UpJesus. I bet you were expecting to see ‘DownSatan’. I haven’t heard that one yet.

But, yup. Those names above are real names. Names people bear. 

I’ve got my beef with the Ijaws on naming. I do even more with Nigerians who give their scions Caucasian, Jewish or Arabic names. I’m gently miffed. What gives? I have never seen a Brit name his son Obunezi or an Israeli name his daughter Oyinkan. But this good Òduà tokàn tokàn sister from Oke Ila Orangun names her son Jayden. 

‘Jayden’ how? 

‘Arianna’ wetin? 

‘Shaun’…of the dead? 

‘Bella’? As in Bella Schmurda?

‘Jason’ Ekechukwu? Like Jason and the Argonauts? Jason Momoa? Jason Bourne?  

My homeboy named his son Xavier. Really, Rahim? Xavier. You might as well name the boy Wolverine. 

Look, I’m a Christian. I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. And I like the meaning of some Christian names. But I’m not from Jabesh-Gilead or Kiriath-Jearim. I am Yoruba. Omo Káárò Ojíre. You are therefore never going to catch me naming my daughter Zoey, Seraphina or Naomi. African names are too rich, too cool and too unique to trade down to Lachelle. 

Oh, did I tell you how I named my second daughter? Here goes!

When my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, we wanted a name that was Yoruba, was uncommon, acknowledged God, and whose short form would be easy for everyone to pronounce. I know that’s a lot for a name to do. But the brief is the brief.  It was the same brief we followed in naming our first daughter so why should this be any different?  

As the self-professed creative in the union, I had to rise to the occasion. So, I journeyed once again into the creative ether. 

After many moons of wandering and discourses with the Muses, a name emerged from the spectral mist. 


That is the short form of Mapolongojesukakirigboboagbaye. 

It means “I will proclaim Jesus to the ends of the earth.”

I thought it was absolute aces. It was uncommon, it was Yoruba and it acknowledged Jesus. 

I came back to earth and presented it to my wife.

She cleared all the bottles of liquor in the house and muttered something about stabbing me in my sleep.

I took it she didn’t fancy being called Mummy Polongo.

She marched me back to the Muses. Me and them dey craze together. 


Maybe you are one of those who don’t see anything good in Nigeria. Or one of those who signal their ‘exposure’ and contemporariness in the inability of their children to speak a local language. I know folks like that.

“Nne, Chucka can’t speak Igbo. He only speaks English and he’s taking Spanish classes. Let’s not confuse him,” she says with a conceited air to her mother.  

Shame on you, Adaeze! 

Your son will never be English enough for the English. Even if he dines with world leaders and has dual citizenship, they’ll still ask him “But where are you really from?” 

I get it, though. In an increasingly globalised world, we don’t want our children’s names to give their ethnicity away. Racism and profiling is a real thing. Names can be a crutch. I understand all these. But I fear we are throwing the baby away with the bath water. Our name is who we are. Opting for a Caucasian name is another form of colonization. It’s mild colonization but colonization nevertheless. At any rate, if white folks can pronounce Giannis Antetokounmpo and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, they can also pronounce Chimagozielam Bunkechukwu. All is fair in love and war. 

Before I go, did I tell you guys the beautiful name my grandfather gave me?

It is Ògúnmódedé.

It means “Ogun (Yoruba god of iron) has brought a hunter.”

The older members of my extended family fondly call me Bàbá Odę (Chief Hunter)

Man, I love the names! I am the hunter of hunters, the stalker of stalkers, the abitoshaker and ganduka-gandusha! Best respect me. 

My grandfather and his fathers hunted game in the presumably haunted forests of South West Nigeria. I imagine they encountered many goblins, sprites and deadly beasties. But thanks to Ògún, their lives and livelihoods were preserved. 

I do not believe in Ògun anymore than I believe in Zeus or Odin. But my forebears have no such intellectual and Christian encumbrances. For them, Ògun was real. And he had brought them another huntsman. But great must have been their tears in Òrùn Alàkeji when they saw me trade potent amulets, daggers and guns for a life of segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Sorry, grandfather. Civet and snake meat are not my thing. I prefer sirloin.  

In a world with cool names like Mmesoma, Chelchi, Kiitan, Fiyin, Toni and Boma, you decide Keisha and Rhonda are finer names. Something dey do you, aunty.

Faith, Religion

Does juju really exist?

A traditional juju man or spiritualist.

Juju Man _ Getty Images

A few weeks ago I was strolling along Twitter boulevard when I came across an intriguing dare. Some dude was on a quest to prove that ‘juju’ or ’jaz’ did not exist. As busy-body Lagosians were wont to do, I stopped by to see what was going on.

This derring-do fella did not believe in the supernatural. He worships at the feet of empiricism, logic and the immutable laws of physics. He thus challenged any purveyor of juju to a public demonstration of juju power. He named a day, venue, time and backed his challenge with a N2.5m reward.

Oh, the comment section was hilarious! Nigerian Twitterati pointed this fella in the direction of certain towns and villages where he should proclaim his challenge. Town and villages where Merlin and Maleficient will be apprentices. Our man only needed to sign a waiver on his right to life should the existence of juju be, er, fatally affirmed.

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Creative Writing, Religion

A slow death may not be a bad thing.

I don’t know about you but I enjoy dwelling in the land of the living. I’d rather not die. But that matter was long decided for me in a garden. It’s what happens when you stop to chit-chat with a snake. Your boyfriend was right there naked and you stopped to tattle with a snake. Not that I hold a grudge.

It’s a snake, for Pete’s sake!

But I’ve moved on. No point crying over spilt milk. Especially when the milk was mine. Especially when someone else spilt it. No, it doesn’t matter that I had the kettle on and the biscuits laid out. Not that I hold a grudge.

So, we are all going to die. No Fountain of Youth. No elixir against carking it. As I cannot, therefore, escape joining the choir eternal one day, I often contemplate the manner of my expiry. How will I die?

Will my death be quick, the phalanges of The Grim scything body from soul in one clean swing? A fatal car accident. A bullet to the head. Death without the chance to say goodbye.

Or will The Grim be devious and cut to the quick, but with the chance to put my affairs in order? Like cancer or ALS. Or will he discard the cloak and the scythe? Turn into a benign Angel of Death and rock me to eternal sleep. A coma. Or dying in my sleep.

There you go again, Jide, thinking these morbid thoughts.

I can’t help myself. Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. But rest assured that I regard death and dying a serious matter.

I am, of course, a Christian. I believe in judgment after death. In heaven and hell. I believe that after I have cashed in my chips, I will appear before the heavenly host. Before whom my life will be played back in Full HD.

This is why I find it ironic many believe that their dearly departed are in a “better place.” If you are a Christian and believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, then you know that not everybody who dies is in a “better place.” There is such a thing as judgment and recompense. Actions and consequences. I don’t know what happened to Herr Hitler or Comrade Stalin in their final moments, but I’d be mad as hell to see them snug in Abraham’s bosom. I’d pull Pete aside and demand an explanation.

So, about that day. When I appear before the host and my life played back in 8K. Will the play back make for a pleasant and enjoyable viewing? Popcorn, hooting and a rousing applause at the end?

Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share in your master’s happiness.

Or will they cower at the horror show before them and look at me aghast?

Hey, Old Nick, one of yours I believe…

The possibility of spending eternity in the smoking section is hair-raising. That is why a slow death, even if painful, has an appeal. You get a second chance to make good with your maker.

A notion no doubt chagrining to the millions of Jews killed by Nazis in death camps.

I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 2019. It was the most harrowing place I’d ever visited. I tell myself I could still smell death in the air. My eyes misted at the sight of the empty canisters of the Zyklon B pesticides used in gassing the prisoners to death. I could still hear their screams as they banged and scratched on the door, the deathly fumes asphyxiating them.

I was traumatised when I saw the lab in which Josef Mengele, the “The Angel of Death”, performed his diabolic experiments on the prisoners. He was particularly fond of Jewish twins. He would inject dyes into their eyes — while they were alive — to see if the iris would change colour. Sometimes he would dissect them. Death at Auschwitz was slow.

Will I die a peaceful or agonising death? Only God knows.

As you would have guessed, I have not died before. But I like to think that the last thing on a mind in a slow and torturous death is anything but surviving. Our genes for self-preservation kick in and we fight for life. Think drowning man. Think straw. But still, a half-chance is better than no chance.

I am of course aware that many people are not religious, let alone subscribe to the Christian faith and its notion of heaven and hell. But no one believes they are going to Valhalla, Asgard or Sugar Candy Mountain, do they?

My father was rocked to sleep. He died a quick and painless death. No chance to say goodbye.

He’d been feeling poorly and decided to go to the hospital. It was nothing serious. A cough. A weakness in the joints. He was 71 years old and only needed to see the doctor. So he went to the hospital with my mom.

At the hospital, he realised he forgot to bring along his hospital card. The card was needed to pull up his records.

The house was a shouting distance from the hospital so my mother volunteered to go back home and get the card.

When she returned a few minutes later, my dad was dead.

He had died in his seat in the waiting area. He leaned his head against the wall and was gone. Everyone thought he was sleeping.

I am the first of five children. I got the call a few minutes after he’d died. It was on a Monday morning and I was at the office. A male voice came on the phone.

“Hello. Is this Mr. Jide Alade?”

No. Not if I owe you money.

“Yes, it is,” I replied.

He mentioned his name. He was the doctor. It was a small privately-run hospital. He started to say something but my mother came on the line. She had snatched the phone from him. She was hysterical and incoherent. I only caught “bàbà é ti kù!” (Yoruba language for “your father has died!”).

I asked her to calm down. But unlike the meme, she couldn’t keep calm. She kept blurting my father’s name. The doctor came on the line and gave me the address of the hospital.

Oh, my father!

I drove to the hospital in a daze. Three of my father’s friends were already there.

My mother clung to me and sobbed. If only she had not left him alone! If only she’d been more sensitive. If only…

The body was released to me to take to the morgue. The hospital didn’t have an ambulance at hand.

We put the body in the back seat of my car in a sitting position. Two of his friends sat on either side of him. My father’s head was slung to the side. He looked like he was snoozing. Yet he was dead. It was unearthly. As I drove to the morgue, I kept looking at him in the back mirror. Hoping he would wake up. Hoping it was all a dream.

Then one of my father’s friends said to me “Jide, when it is my time to die, I want to die like your father. A quick and painless death. I don’t want to be sickly. I don’t want to cost my family money or cause them anguish. I just want to go, like that. Like your father.”

Thanks, man. That was sure comforting.

But his words stuck with me. The appeal of a quick, painless death.

Those words would re-echo last year when my friend died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Right before my eyes, he withered, his motor neurons and muscles atrophying. I witnessed the degeneration of his muscle movement. First the speech. Then swallowing. Then walking. I saw the huge burden his sickness placed on his frail wife and on his 10- and 8-year-old sons. They grew into adults overnight.

He had always invited me to his hometown at Christmas to savour some choice bushmeat and palm wine. When I finally went, it was to bury his body.

See you finally came visiting. Told you the bushmeat was scrummy.

The words of my father’s friend would re-echo when my sister died during childbirth and was buried with the unborn child. I was there when they cut her open and brought out the lifeless baby to be interred with her.

Those words would re-echo seeing my father-in-law vibrate uncontrollably from Parkinson’s disease. Weeks ago, he was so distressed, he expressed his desire to die and be rid of the affliction. My wife and sister cried.

I am 47 years old. How will I die? A thousand cuts or rocked to sleep?

A quick and peaceful death is awesome if you are certain of where you’ll be spending eternity. But if you are unsure, you might want to be poured out slowly. Painless, I hope.

How will I like to die? Why, like Jacob, of course!

“When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” — Gen 49: 33

NB: This post was written for the Medium Writers Challenge with the tag of “Death.” 

Faith, Religion, The Future, Uncategorized

Psst…aliens are here. Attracted by 5G


“Psst…have you heard? 5G tech caused Covid-19! It’s a ploy by the New World Order to get us chipped. Remember 666? The mark of the beast? That’s the end game!”

 “Psst…the 2004 tsunami was caused by a secret underwater nuclear test by India.  US and Israel scientists were involved.  

“Psst…Diana was killed by the MI6 on instruction of Her Majesty so Diana won’t have an Arab child for Dodi Fayed. Imagine Williams and Harry having an Arab sibling!

“Psst…Malaysia flight MH370 was shot down over the Indian Ocean to prevent top secret information exchanging hands. There was a spy onboard carrying sensitive information.”

How I enjoy a good conspiracy theory!

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Faith, Religion

When your time comes…


Oh, for goodness sake, here comes this retard talking about death in January! We’ve just danced, sang and wined into a new year and this Dufus has to remind everyone we’ll check into the wooden Waldorf one day. Idiot! I shall not die but live to testify of the goodness of the Lord!

Well, I can’t help myself, can I? It must be the harmattan. Besides, what type of friend will I be if I don’t remind you that you will expire one day? I hope that day is a thousand years away, when you are full of years, wizened and lost all appetite to curse me.

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