OF NIGERIAN NAMES
Ukonurhoro Diesode Omenih
Shouldn't Agidigbin have directed his energies at retrieving the enormous
number of stolen ancient Benin artifacts that abound here in North American
and European museums rather than pursue his Igbo and Urhobo brethren (assuming
he's right) for a name he knows is safe with them right there in Nigeria,
in Mother Africa? Besides, the thought pattern of Mr. Agidigbin clearly
underscores how presumptuous and deficient we can sometimes be in "our
know it all" approach to historical issues. Not minding pronunciation and
meaning of the name "Okoro" to other ethnic groups or nationalities, I'm
amazed that a Nigerian at this day and age would still subscribe to using
"tribe" to refer to either his people or his fellow Nigerians.
Last year, I met a gentleman, Dr. Oyibo whom I was almost certain is
an Urhobo. A renowned mathematician by profession, Dr. Oyibo, who is a
Tiv, hails from Benue State. Boy was I wrong! Also, a Ghanaian acquaintance
of mine told me some years ago that my last name, Omenih (others among
my Urhobo kinsfolk would spell it omitting the letter "h,") meant something
dissimilar from its meaning in Urhobo.
My view is that there is enough room in Nigeria for all Nigerians to be as creative as they wish irrespective of our differences. That is why the current pervasive mindset amongst a disturbingly large number of Nigerians that Nigeria can only be defined through the narrow prism of Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo dominance is exactly what will undo this artificial "giant."
Our strength lies in knowing and acknowledging that together, all the
different ethnic nationalities in Nigeria have something unique to offer
in strengthening the Nigerian polity. It's this simple. Only such a wholesome
mutual understanding of our need to inter-connect and interdepend shall
the greatness that Nigeria so desperately craves materialize.
After all, Dr. Okoro Ademola Iyi-Eweka is right. Mr. Agidigbin and others like him ought to "let this Edo-Okoro go" on perpetual "sabbatical."
Ukonurhoro D. Omenih