“What’s your name?”
“oh-you are from Nigeria!”
“no,I’m not,I’m Sierra Leonean”
“…but Ngozi is a Nigerian name”
Before we go any further,the above conversation is usually a scenario with a fellow African,especially a West African.Beyond that context,no one really cares which country the name is from,I can always claim it to be Sierra Leonean and be safe.I have always been fascinated by my name and how I got it.The story,as far as I know, is that my father went to Nigeria on business when my mother was pregnant and he fell in love with two Igbo names: “Ngozi”,which means “blessing”,and “Chukwuemeka”, which means “God has done well”.Ngozi became his top preference,and when I yelled my first greeting into the world,Ngozi I was named. Interestingly enough, for a long time I didn’t know how to pronounce my own name.I can’t be blamed though,since I had always been called shortened forms of it by my family: “Goz”,”N.G.O”, “Zin”,etc. The first time I had my name pronounced by an Igbo person,I felt a liquid sensation flow through my body-it sounded so right!Even to this day,having a Nigerian say my name is just life for me,it rolls out beautifully.
My name is also a point of contention.The Nigerians of course guard it jealously and assert its Igbo-ness.
” You know Ngozi is a Nigerian name right? It’s Igbo”
“Yes, I know”
“You know what it means?” (ehen! We’ll catch her!)
“Yes I do,it means blessing”
“Oh…well how did you get it?”
The East Africans never fail to claim that it is Swahili for “skin or leather”,which is very true,but it wasn’t my father’s intention for me to be called “skin” all my life,so I always politely decline the tag.
The Shonas from Zimbabwe are next in line,
“Your name means a very bad ghost in Shona!”
“Yeah,Ngozi is the spirit of a dead person who was murdered and has come back for revenge”
…Okay.Well,the comfort here is that it could really mean worse,like an evil witch or a damned demon,so a vengeful spirit is not that bad.
The Zulus follow closely, “I-Ngozi“,means a warning-danger or accident,which is kind of -sort of,close to the truth,if I happen to be in a really bad mood .
Once, I idly browsed the meaning of my name online and one website said it meant “snore” in the “Congolese language”-well,you can guess my opinion on that.
Truth be told,I am intrigued by this name-Its pronunciation,different meanings,and how I can’t imagine myself being called anything else.Whats in your name?