THE MILLENNIAL: Why I’ll soon drop my English name
Iker. Weird as it sounds, that’s how I call my cat. I am not good at naming animals and not just that, I am not good at many things. I make plans that I don’t follow, hit the snooze button one too many times and most times am too lazy to even make an entry in my diary. On top of that, I am one of those guys that have a soft spot for cats.
I am sure you’ve heard of midlife crisis and the crisis teenagers go through when they are adolescents. However, have you noticed the crisis in the ages of 20 to 22 years? I am stuck that in this period and its crisis.
This is one period where your younger siblings think you are an adult yet adults think you are inexperienced in life. Your nephews and nieces think all uncles and aunties are rich but you are broke as hell. The society expects you to already have a plan but the system you’ve been raised in is designed to work against you.
That’s why I prefer the company of my cat. In the two decades I’ve lived, I have realized that everyone seems to have an idea of how others should live their lives but not how they should live theirs. So in trying to meet all this expectations, you end up losing the one life you have control of your life.
My relationship with Iker is simple. I feed him, pet him when in a good mood, clean after him and make sure he has a home. In return, he serves as my companion. We don’t talk or communicate effectively, but we’ve struck a balance on how our needs are to be met. No one expects the other to change, we grow together.
However, we have rules. I am the human in the relationship thus I own him. As an owner, I am entitled to give him a human name. I know cats can communicate with each other but since I can’t understand their language, he needs a name from my language. I also need him to lose his identity for him to be with me. Humans politely refer to this as domestication.
Keep your eyes open, see beyond the facade people build around themselves. To survive this world you got to learn, to learn you’ve got to understand the world and the people in it. To do this, you’ve got to see the world in terms of what it is and not what you want it to be.
I keep Iker as a reminder of what can happen when we accept to lose our identity. Iker so much accepted the human name I gave it to the point he comes running whenever I call the name. I am no different from Iker.
I’ve spent most of my years bearing an English name whose origin I know not. Travel back in history and you’ll see slaves being named by their masters. So, who’s this master that cannot allow me to bear my African names? I am African to the core, why do I need a name that’s not African? Why do I need another Identity? Is African not good enough?
It’s scary how much as Africans we are so willing to accept another identity and lose ours. Identify yourself with only your African names and someone will ask you if you have a Christian name. What’s Christian about a name? Isn’t Christianity all about faith and someone’s beliefs?
Apparently, my tough African hair is not good enough and I have to shave it. It scares me what would have happened if Africa was the continent being covered in snow for half a year. Would there be any life?
That’s just a glimpse of the thoughts and life of a 20-year-old. I am not the wisest of people nor the most experienced but take it from me and my cat, whatever you have in life is only a disadvantage if you let someone lead you to believing it is. So one of this days I’ll drop my English name and be proud of the African heritage that runs deep in me. But until then, I remain the 20 year old in the middle of a crisis.