Camping was fun…but short. You see, like last year, we were supposed to arrive at our camp site on Friday afternoon and return home on Sunday afternoon. However, a couple of factors affected our plans:
- one of my friends (oyinbo guy sha) was fighting with his possessive girlfriend and she basically did everything she could to make his time away from her a living hell (never mind the fact that she was invited and she declined because the camping wasn’t far enough into the bush for her) so he wanted to get back home to her as soon as possible
- one of my friends is very afraid of storms, especially thunder and lightning, and there was plenty of that
When you combine these facts with the fact that after we arrived at our camp site on Friday, assembled our tents and cooked our meals, it started raining like it would never stop, complete with a lot of thunder and lightning, you could tell that at least two of the campers were ready to go home on Saturday. Anyways sha, we slept through the storm on Friday night, and all was well.
Saturday dawned and looked like it would be ok. We had only spent about an hour and a half at the beach before it started to storm again…so we went back to the camp site, soaked to the skin, and in a very uncharacteristic behaviour I decided to go along with the majority and I didn’t complain about having to leave early. We were back home 24 hours after we left.
So for the record, I loooove camping, love cooking on the fire and on the camp stove. I don’t mind sleeping on the ground (my friends sha know how to pamper themselves and have air mattresses; me and my sister, we just sleep in the sleeping bag), and I don’t mind having to let my hair air dry. I’ve camped at sites without running water or flushing toilets nearby, but I won’t deny that I prefer those conveniences, thank you very much.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. One of the “risks” (if you want to call it that) that you take when you move to a new country is that your name may have another meaning in the society or new culture that you enter. I can only think of four such names but I’m hoping you can add more.
In alphabetical order:
This name, which means “crown” in Yoruba (if I’m not mistaken) and is also a common prefix in other parts of Nigeria, is often mispronounced as “aid” or “-ade” as in lemonade. A family friend who goes by this name said that when he first came to Canada in the 1970s, by the 80s when AIDS was getting more media attention, it was not a desirable name to have and to have mispronounced. He said at first, he didn’t care how his name was pronounced, even when he corrected the mispronouncer, but after all this wahala of having his name pronounced to sound exactly like the disease, he started ignoring people unless they pronounced his name correctly (after he would tell them the correct way to say his name o!).
There is no doubt that the Yoruba name Bimbo is one of the hardest to deal with, especially in North America. As you all know, a bimbo is an unflattering term for a woman who is unintelligent, an airhead. Since both guys and girls in Nigeria have names that contain Bimbo in it, with Bimbo being the common short form, you can imagine how hard it is to deal with this name. I would bet that this name is mispronounced by North Americans 100% of the time.
This certainly not the worst one out there, but this could be mispronounced to almost sound like “bozo” (think “bose” to rhyme with “hose”), another unflattering word that refers to someone who is an oaf and/or stupid.
This is my grandmother’s name, so it pains me to include this on the list but it’s clear that this name will be forever mispronounced by non-Nigerians as “dupe” (pronounced ‘doop’), meaning to trick (someone). It’s bad enough trying to get your average North American to master the pronunciation of the “p” sound in Yoruba, talk less trying to get them to see Dupe as anything but “doop”
I just thought of this one: I can just imagine an oyinbo person say “Oh, Bola, that’s a pretty name, sounds sort of like Ebola, right?” Not exactly the sort of thing you want people to associate with your name!
Your turn: What are some horrible (but expected) mispronunciations of Nigerian names that you’re aware of?