What’s in a name?
The question is often asked: What’s in a name? The impression the question creates is one was just given a name at birth. Many believe it is randomly given and that it is arbitrary. Some parents would say they just name their child after their hero or heroine. For Christians, the common names that can be said to readily appeal and which they grab are Abraham, Moses, Solomon, David, Isaiah, Samuel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Job, Joseph, Elisha, Elijah, Ruth, Esther, Joan, Deborah, Noah, Ezekiel and Jonathan to mention only a few from the Old Testament. From the New Testament, the commonest names parents feel unable to resist for the children are Mary, Elizabeth, John, Matthew, Paul, Peter, Mark, James, Nathaniel, Hezekiah and Timothy, again to list only a few. In Europe you sometimes find Mary and Elizabeth as a compound first name—Mary-Elizabeth.
Two names parents intuitively touch with a long pole, indeed avoid are Judas and Pontius Pilate. Much as parents ponder, much as they reflect, no one moves near naming his child after villains. The commonest names most Moslem parents go for are Mohammed, Ahmed, Umar, Abdullahi, Abdukadir, Ibrahim, Sulaiman and AbduRauf. In indigenous names, most names reflect what may be regarded as the parent’s disposition to worshipful adoration of the Most High or some other spiritual values they may profess.
Some in adulthood add to their first names appellation of figures they adore, either in politics, music or sports. I know of an Anthony after Anthony Enahoro, a John after John the Baptist, a Kennedy after John F. Kennedy, and Martin after civil rights hero, Martin Luther King. There is Clinton after Bill Clinton. Because these are deliberate, does it mean names could be given randomly? The same question can be asked when parents avoid naming their children after Judas, Hitler or Pilate who are regarded as universal villains. Does anyone bear Lucifer, the fallen Archangel, the anti-Christ in person?
Thought to be a way of keeping the family name, many a man gives his first name to his son and the wife hers to a daughter, usually the first child in either case. Names of fore-bears are exhumed, dusted up and given to children. So, what is in a name? Quite a lot! If it were not so, why does no one name his son Judas Iscariot? I have not read or heard anyone who goes by the name Judas Iscariot, Pontus Pilate, Hitler or Jezebel.
A good name is a treasure. It is regarded as fate: “Nomen est omen.” This was the high recognition of the people of old, the knowledge of which the modern man has lost out of vanity. I recall that a highly respected non-conformist and social critic once wrote, commenting on foreign names: “ Every such name cuts a bad figure not so much for the wearer as for the people the grotesque wearer represents. To bear an indigenous name is to be considered inferior, and so cheaply, the queer foreign name is sneaked in.” In reaction to the article and previous ones on the subject many people began to hide their foreign names or drop them altogether to embrace, in answer to the call and their pride of nationalism. They were in error.
There are no accidents in the names we bear, nor were they chosen for fancy or in honour and remembrance of a hero or a heroine. Each person is the name he bears! It has been known that babies in the womb whisper to the prospective expectant mothers in different cultures who they are and the names they are to be called on earth if the mothers are close to nature, walking in the woods or walking by the seaside. Many women have names of the babies whispered to them in their dreams. The men in times past were known to consult oracles. It is not for nothing that when a young man behaves in a certain manner in certain cultures he is asked for his name. Once the answer rings out, it is always striking when someone in the gathering says, “No wonder! He is living his name. He is true to his name.”
There is a vigorous protest when our names are mispronounced or misspelt. We make demand for an immediate correction. If the wrong spelling is in print, the bearer of the name demands a republication. In 1984, Col. Muhammadu Buhari as he then was issued a statement sent to newspaper houses that his correct name was Muhammadu Buhari and not Mohammad nor Muhammad as papers were addressing him upon becoming the Head of State.
Consider twins. There was a case of a woman who had a set of twins. The woman told the nurse the names of her babies, one Maria and the other Emma. Later, when the babies were brought to her she discovered to her shock that from the wristbands, the names had been transposed. She was furious and insisted that the mix-up should be corrected immediately. The nurse did not understand what the fuss was all about; after all they were twins by the same mother. Why can’t this bear that and that bear this, she asked. But the woman insisted that the error must be corrected. In the end the mix-up was corrected. There was again a set of twins. Because they were unbelievably identical, and neighbours often mistook one for the other. Out of complaints that there was always the problem of identification their mother said rather than ignoring the neighbours an act that was being regarded as rudeness, Taiwo should answer and if it was Kehinde that was being mistaken for Taiwo she should respect by answering. The twins declined the entreaty of their mother and insisted that each should be addressed correctly by her name. All this shows the relationship between each person and his name, how deeply he or she feels his or her name. What then lies behind a name?
Take plants and flowers. For identification, they are given different names. There is a picture when we hear lilies mentioned. And there are different kinds of lilies. We have Touch Lily, Peace Lily, Canna Lily, and St. Joseph’s Lily, each presenting its own unique picture before the eyes. It is a different picture that forms before our gaze when Sunflower is mentioned. Sunflower is different from Yellow Trumpet called Costus Spectabilis. Look at Bougainvillea with its compelling rays and enthralling colours. Trees have their names, so do rocks and soils. How then do names come about? All names come about from the pressure of the Law, call it cosmic Law or the Law of Nature. Colour, content and form all vibrate and emit rays that enable us to distinguish one plant from the other and one flower from the other. In the rays precipitates fragrance.
Plants are looked after by nature beings also known as animistic beings or elemental beings. Female elves tend flowers while male elves look after trees. The beings are the house builders, active in different realms weaving what in the household of the Creator. All plants vibrate and emit rays peculiar to them. The radiation and tone of each plant, each flower or rock impel us, albeit unconsciously, to give each a designation that corresponds with its nature. To those who occupy themselves with them are the names revealed by the beings that tend them and the enchanting colours.
Children that are still natural see and talk to them, calling the beings their friends. They were the teachers who showed to the early men what plants should serve as food and those that serve to heal our ailing bodies. This is why herbs which are products of the perfection of their hands are more potent than synthetic medicine of these times, as some doctors are beginning to discover in Asia and the Western world.
As for us human beings, each person comes as a distinct character even as a baby and the name denotes his nature. With the nature while seeking opportunity for an incarnation, the soul stays in the vicinity of an expectant mother, drawn to hover around her by the inflexible Law of Homogenous Species that shows they share certain qualities in common. As the baby hovers around, the parents, particularly the mother in whose aura it swings and bathes, can pick its radiations which define its personality. The child’s spirit has guiding influence on its would-be parents and guides their thoughts in a certain direction that ultimately determines its name which is whispered. This name in consequence of the radiations is in agreement with its radiations.
In other words it is the radiations emitted that define the child’s nature and determine its name. The name will always be in accord with its radiations even if the child is to bear the name of its father or the girl-child the name of its mother. It only demonstrates the strengths and weakness they share. No matter what amount of reflection, of efforts to give a suitable name of the parents’ liking, even at the last minute, the child will always bear its own name that encapsulates its qualities and its being. The first name therefore carries the talents and abilities of the child- person which it will unfold in the course of its sojourn on earth. There has hardly been anyone who has not sensed a close tie with its name and felt deep down him that he is his name.
The name each person will bear in future in the event of another opportunity of re-incarnation is partly being put together in the present earthlife while he still carries the previous one that he has not discharged if the name was disreputable and if it was a treasure, he is blessed to build on it and solidify it. Each man is his name, woven for him by the beings using the threads he has furnished through his conduct, his thoughts and deeds, in accord with the incorruptible Laws governing our world and Creation in general. It is the same currents that guide the supposed foreign names we bear. A Mr. Stone or a Mr. Browne or Mr. Green all have meanings dictated by the tones and rays they emit out into Creation.