Flash Fiction: Why I Changed My name

Oluwabunmi is the name my parents gave me.
It’s a Yoruba name that means, God’s gift. 
At school, my teachers shortened my name to Bunmi even though I preferred the name Olu.
That is when the teasing started.  The kids called me bum licker.  They taunted me as I sat at the lunch table, all by myself.    
I could never understand why they were so mean. 
Several years later, I changed my name to Amy. 

Ibukun Sodipe

The character

Oluwabubmi is an eight-year-old girl who has just moved with her family from Nigeria to England. She is struggling to fit in because clearly, she is different.  

‘That is when the teasing started.  The kids called me bum licker.’

The kids single her out and tease her because they aren’t used to hearing a name like hers.

‘Several years later, I changed my name to Amy’

At this point, I pictured a young adult, making a decision based on the scars from her past.   

Why I wrote this

This one is personal.  I wrote this for my younger self.

Although I was born and raised in England, it was in a very Nigerian home with parents who trained me to be proud of my cultural heritage. 

When I was in primary school, I got teased a lot and the kids made a horrible song about my name.  And so, back then, I am ashamed to admit; I wished I had an English name.

It didn’t help that my name has three syllables, so my teachers struggled to pronounce it correctly.

The only time a teacher pronounced my name correctly was when he or she was Nigerian. Then, they would say it in a singsong voice that is the Yoruba tonation, and then all the kids in class would laugh because it sounded different.  

The moral of the story

The moral to this story is, be proud of who you are regardless of what others think.  Don’t be afraid to be yourself; that is a message I would have loved to tell my younger self.   

And now

I am in love with my Nigerian name.  I love that my parents carefully selected a name that was inspired by their faith in God. My name, Ibukunoluwa means the blessing of God and proves that I was yearned for before I came into existence. Isn’t that beautiful?  I wouldn’t trade it for any other name in the world.

‘…I was yearned for before I came into existence.’

I once introduced myself to a new co-worker, and she thought I said my name was, Imogen. Then, I laughed and proceeded to explain my full name and its meaning. Her response was, ‘Wow, that is an incredibly beautiful name. I wish I had a Nigerian name too.’ 

Nowadays, it cool to embrace one’s blackness in all its raw glory. People are more likely to be praised for being quirky, bold and for standing out.

I tip my hat to those who stuck it out and stayed true to themselves when it wasn’t considered ‘cool’ to be different. Those who didn’t succumb to societal pressures and kept their original thick Nigerian accents, even if they got teased or bullied for it are the real heroes in my eyes. I know several of my brothers and sisters who are in this boat and guess what, they still proudly speak English with their beautifully intact Nigerian accents today!

‘.. they still proudly speak English with their beautifully intact Nigerian accents today!’

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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Why I Changed My name

  1. A lovely post, Ibukun. I enjoyed reading your story and am happy to know that you now love your full Nigerian name. It’s very beautiful. We should all be proud of who we are. ❤

  2. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences on this topic. Absolutely love it! There are many of us out there who have issues with our identity because of childhood incidents like these.

  3. Wow! So nice!
    I was actually like this before, the name pronouncing though. It was so hard for people to pronounce my name and surname. Tega= Tai-gah or Tiger 😂😂. I suffered. Now, I’m proud of my name and my Nigerian Heritage!

    Nice blog, I must say.

  4. “…be proud of who you are regardless of what others think.” Apt!

    People’s poor perception about your pedigree should not plunder your prestige. Arrogance and bullying are sometimes an expression of ignorance and low self-esteem.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Itsveey inspiring. I have no doubt that you were raised in a very Nigerian home. There is a touch of Omoluabi in every properly raised Yoruba.

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