When TV Celebrity, Uzo Amaka was a little girl she went home and asked her mother if she could be called Zoe. (FYI her full name is Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba) She recalls her mother was cooking and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” Uzo replied, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Her mother said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”
As Africans living in the diaspora this sounds all too familiar. To fit in we are at times willing to forego the very essence of our identity – our name. Latino, Indians and Asian may have smilar experiences. What was once a statement of racial pride and independence is even being seen as an obstacle – professionally. In USA Research conducted by NBER found that individuals with a name that sounds like it might belong to an African-American – say, Lakisha Washington or Jamal Jones, for example may find it harder to get a job.”
So much for well meaning, proud parents who have big dreams for their children’s career. Having said that, if Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Lupita Nyong’o, Gabourey Sidibe, Dambisa Moyo, Mpule Kwelagobe have made it without changing their names, so can our girls!
MOCCA Mums, your thoughts, experiences?