We all grew up being called by a name or even names. Some of these names hold an amazing story, some, not so much of a story. Some spark memories for the giver, which can be intriguing, sweet or not so sweet. And whether we like it or not, names have grown to be an important part of our identity. Not only ourselves, but we also love to name our pets and piece of properties we own. Name sure does help keep thing organized, most times.
This, I would say, is my little name story…
After I was given birth to, my parent needed to come up with a name for me but they couldn't. I guess all the “stress and tension” that came with my birth gave them little to no time to think up a name. I thought they were supposed to think of a name before I arrived? Oh, well! That didn't happen.
Many people wanted me named after them and I think that didn't make it easy for them, either (who are they gonna chose, someone is gonna get mad?), It probably is issues like this that make the Yorubas end up with so many names (some, 10! Or even more). One of the women still insists that I am her “namesake”. It is normal for a child to be named after someone here, it is meant to form bonds and relationships between people and families.
After much procrastination with the naming ceremony (which is basically the name being announced in church, then a ceremony/party later at home), it was finally the day for the naming.
And there was this cute little baby, being held by the pastor with her parent facing the pastor, clueless about what name to call their child. They had told him the day before that they still had no name, even though preparations for everything has been made. This time, a name just had to be given to this girl. From the 1st week up to the 5th month after birth, they still were trying to come up with a name and all these while, their baby remained nameless.
It was finally time to announce the name and the pastor asked if they had come up with the name (with a whisper, of course), my Dad took a step forward to probably just say whatever name that pops to his head but my mum held his hands and took a step forward too, she was fast enough and whispered to the pastor that they still have no name for the baby. Like, seriously??????😲
The pastor smiled, looked at the congregation and said, “and she shall be called Afiniki".
Now, that's one name my parents have never heard of! And probably most members of the church and our relatives too. Could that be from his own language? The pastor definitely had explanations do after service (well, so also my parents, and so the need for the Pastor's explanation)
People around here always want to know the meaning of people's names because it is believed that names are powerful and can be a reflection of someone.
“If you have a name with a ‘good meaning’, you most probably are gonna end up being a good person, and if it is one that holds some really bad or nasty meanings to it, you probably aren't gonna be so good, if it signifies struggles, you are gonna have a hard life”. That's the belief!
So, according to the Pastor, it is the Hausa version /translation of “Eunice”. So, basically, Afiniki is Eunice in another language. To be honest, I don't know how the translators of the Bible were able to come up with that as a translation for that name but they did a great job with it (I guess) and I have grown to love the name (well, it hasn't always been so).
This morning though, I decided to check up the name online and according to names.org, it is of French origin. How???????😲😲😲😲😲
Growing up as a kid, I realized that most of the people around me had common names or at least, they knew the meaning of their names. Whether it's English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo or any other native languages plus, they would always see and meet people that share the same name with them but for me, it was quite different.
The name stood out, it was the weird one, whose owner didn't know what it meant, one which I needed to explain its origin and meaning (great conversation starter?). Well, most people here often times are asked the meaning of their name if it is in their own language but mine isn't in my own language plus, I didn't know what it meant. And it seems like most people prefer to read the English Bible so, they've never come across it.
when I say “it's in the Bible”, questions like “what book, chapter, and verse” comes up. And when I am like “its just Eunice”, few people are like, Eunice is such a nice name why don't you use. Well, isn't Afiniki even nicer? At that point, I agreed with them and even though Eunice didn't sound so nice to me, I was mildly forced to accept that I probably should change the name.
The fact that my names always stood out led me to ask tons questions about my first name, and the story was told to me (the story about how the name was given to me, how they came across the name Audrey but it was about a year after I was named). it had always been a really funny story for me. Like, how can two adults not be able to come up with a name for their child after they have previously named two kids, have all the names in this world finished?
I mean, there were a whole lot of native names they could have given me, whose meanings would at least be clear to me and wouldn't stand out too much where we lived, there were English names too, which are straight forward. Then, why was it so hard?
My sister has two names, Joy and Kucheli (which we often times shorten for Chel or Li). Well, we call her Joy 98% of the time. They could come up with those names, why was mine hard? My brother is Arhyel (pronounced ah-hell), why was mine different.
I would think up names like Hyelhira, Hir or Usakahyel or even Hirhyel. I mean, most people were about preserving their language then (since the Hausa language seemed to be taking over then), this could have been a way to preserve the language. Don't you think? I know, it quite hard for you to pronounce those names but they aren't as hard as they appear. (There are more fun and the thrilling name I could tell you if you want).
I wonder why Eunice might mean in my own language🤔😉. Well, I asked my Mum and she has no clue too...
Well, Back To Afiniki
When I asked for the meaning, I was told its “Eunice”.
Well, what does Eunice even mean??? “It is in the Bible, somewhere in the book of Timothy, either first or second”. Clearly, my parents didn't know the meaning (and most probably the pastor). I would have bugged them to take me to him but at that point, but he had already been transferred to another church.
Well, on a quest to know where in the Bible my name really was (and see in written somewhere). My Dad gave me the assignment to search the scriptures so I could locate my name, he gave me a hint (either the first or second book of Timothy).
I needed solid answers for when I am asked about my name, so I needed to check. I went from actually reading line by line to just looking at the words so I can spot the name “Eunice”. I was using the English Bible so that I can easily find it in the Hausa translation of it once I am done, I could actually read Hausa back then (I was taught in school), but, it was easier for me to read English. You needed to see the look of victory in my eyes once I found the name. It was like I had won a trophy!
As a kid, I had more than a few books about names and their meanings. I guess it was more because I wanted to see my name appear somewhere other than my books and other documents but I have actually never seen “ Afiniki”, even in those that were in Hausa.
With time, I got what Eunice meant and that's the meaning I gave to Afiniki. it means the same thing, right? And I would joyfully explain to people what it meant, where it is found etc.
I would come to school with my “names and meaning” book and I would help my friends check there. Thing is, the kids with the English names never get asked the meaning of their names, so they probably never bothered to check and thanks to me, to get to know...
I was glad I knew what my name meant but deep inside, I still wanted to at least know someone or even see someone that shares the same name with me. All my life, I have only seen one, heard of two but have meant my “Eunice versions” (about 4 or so of them). I can safely say that 1 out of 5000 people are named Afiniki (or maybe 10000?) Dunno….
Uhhhmm….. We are gonna continue this story next time….😊 because this name has a little bit more story plus (challenges?) for the bearer… maybe it will be more fun than serious next time😀
Much Love — Audrey❤