So as a young Yoruba adult, who has never truly lived in the South-Western part of the country (I mean I did from like ages 6 to 9, might have been longer but that’s all I remember *sigh*).
Anyway my dad had the brilliant idea to send me to a University in my region of origin and the culture shock was MAD! My first problem was my name. So my name is Oluwakorede but I make everyone call me Koreey (two e’s no exceptions). Why you ask, because I learnt in my first month in Yoruba land that female ‘Koredes’ are rare. The first response you get is “Oh! like Korede Bello?”… Ummmm NO, I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t know him or his existence when I was named (no offence to him). That response is actually more bareable than the next one.
Growing up in a different culture meant my name wasn’t common and I always found it exciting explaining what Oluwakorede meant ‘God brings blessings’ and no you cannot by that logic say that my English name is blessing, so don’t go there please. Anyway so we go from; “Awwww your name is so unique!” to “Oh I thought that was a guy’s name!”
If I was credited 10 naira for each time I have heard that statement in the past 4 months, I should be a millionaire by now! Honestly, almost all Yoruba names are unisex right? So can someone please explain to me why people still have shocked expressions when I introduce myself as a Korede. (If this seems like I’m exaggerating then think about every female Femi or Lanre that you know and the reaction you had when they said their name; if you are one then sweetie, I feel your pain).
So I said it was a problem right? My solution is Koreey, and I wish I could say it was full-proof and has stopped the stupid questions and annoying references but sadly it hasn’t. It has reduced them though and I don’t have to say “Don’t say Bello” or listen to people attempt to sing Godwin as much. That’s a step up in my opinion.
I’m not saying it doesn’t still drive me crazy, believe me it does. I’m just saying that I’m now able to keep my annoyance on the inside (at least I hope so). To everyone out there who thinks that Yoruba names are gender specific and think that female ‘Femis’, ‘Kolas’, ‘Obas’, ‘Kunles’ and the likes are a myth. Our parents pick our names based on the meaning and often times how well it will glorify God not based on whether it sounds masculine or feminine.
Please take this as a lesson to keep the shock as well as the urge to ask, “Isn’t that a guy’s name?” to yourself the next time you meet someone who’s name doesn’t seem to fit into their gender. As someone this happens to often, it’s annoying and quite rude.
Unfortunately, that’s all I have time for right now but honestly people, don’t do this to anyone, please for the love of all that is good and decent. Also because if the person is like me, you could be the last straw and they could curse you out. Until next time, I have to go back to trying to figure out my own culture…*sigh*
Written by: Koreey.
Photos from Google Chrome Images.