Having so many names and changing them often is not new to me. Growing up, I have always loved names hence the reason for the nick name I was given ‘ife olorukopupo’ (Ife = love; my childhood name, oruko pupo = plenty names, so my nickname was love with the plenty names for my non-native readers). Naturally I was given a lot of names at birth but then, I occasionally added as many names as I loved to it. I don’t know how I started that act but if I thought your name was pleasant to my ears, I will add it to mine so when people ask for my name, I’d name my original names plus all the new ones. The list grows and trust me I don’t forget the names. As I grew, I dropped the act though, I still have familial people from way back that still use the nickname.
When I was to enter JSS1, I changed my first and middle name and that has stuck till now. However, I still have trouble giving people one name. Today one asks for my name and I say “Jesufemi”. Another asks and I say ”Shine”. This is because of the uniqueness of the names and to save non natives the trouble.
Well back to my gist. In secondary school, I had several nicknames, the ones I was given and the ones I gave myself. I was given nicknames for different reasons, some to repronounce my name like shi-ne, sine; some for character I exhibited like Omojesu, Jesus child; and some to shorten my name like Sister Jesu, Femi, etc. But as a lover of names, I gave myself more unique ones that I loved. My first attempt was in JSS2 in line with the pattern of nicks then, I gave myself ‘Shining Angel’.
Then in SSS1 I grew from that to ‘Dazzling Mirage’, a name I picked from a book of same title by “Olayinka Abímbólá Egbokhare”. Obviously, I enjoyed reading the book so much. I even gisted my friends when school resumed. However I succumbed to a friend and changed the ‘Mirage’ to ‘Emerald’. My last nick in secondary school then was however ‘Moxie’. This time, I sat with the dictionary and gave myself a word I liked as a name. It was just few months to leaving but I made sure it registered with everyone that was close to me. That’s still my nickname till date. However, I haven’t stopped playing with names, hence my having a pen name.
Having various names has helped me be various things. I have hidden well under the shadow of the names. I have used the names as an influence for myself with people. I love all my names. I love the ones I was given, however I am very careful of the ones I choose for myself. I might not have had power over the ones I was given, but I have power over the ones I give myself because, that is what would resonate with me more. It is what tells me who I am. What people call us don’t matter, what matters is what we let ourselves be called. So tell me, what’s your name?