Sunday 12 August 2018

Of Surname and Your Identity

I was thinking this morning.... about surname or last name. Every now and then, someone will ask me to pronounce my surname because they think it is a difficult one. It is so bad that a colleague of mine refers to me as the man with a surname with so many vowels. While I got used to comments about my surname over the years, I never knew there were people in more precarious situation, that do not have a fixed surname and have to choose a surname anytime a child is born to the family. Na wa o! Why should that be when the child is not born to an unknown father or he or she is not 'born throway' like we call it in Warri?

This thought only came to me when I read the headline 'Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's children's surname will probably be this.' For the first time in all my life, I asked myself what the surname of Queen Elizabeth is but could not detect a whiff of knowledge about it. Hmm!!! You probably are thinking of what it is but wouldn't know either because the world never refer to the royal family by anything other than their title and first names. That is why we only know of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Princess Diana etc.

It is common in Nigeria to have children named after locations, events and situations, hence a classmate of mine is called 'Conference' and another 'Independence,' but it is rare to find cousins from three brothers all bearing different last names. This is the case with the grand children of Queen Elizabeth. When Meghan and Harry eventually have children, they will have a surname different from that of their cousins, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Princess Louis, despite the fact that their fathers are brothers. I am sure you might be thinking, 'what is their problem?' You are not alone.

As I stayed on that thought, I discovered that the surname of the royal family is Mountbatten-Windsor, but the children don't use this last name at school to help them blend into the school environment. Rather, they use the title of their parents. For example, William and Harry do go by the surname of 'Wales' because their parents are Duke and Duchess of Wales, while Prince George, the son of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge was given the surname 'Cambridge' when he started school last September. So, it is believed that the surname of the children of Meghan and Harry will be 'Sussex' since they are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Interesting, right?
The practice by the English monarchy of making their children take a surname that relates to their title rather than directly to monarchy got me thinking about how interesting it will be if we borrow same in Nigeria. The children of Jos king would have gone by the surname of 'Gbong-Gwom' while the son of the Oba of Benin will for example be called 'Nosa Uku-Akpolokpolor.' Wahala for dey sha.
The truth is, it doesn't matter whether your last name is according to the family surname or a title, what is important is to know who you are, whose child you are and fulfill destiny. Charles, William and Harry don't have to answer the surname Mountbatten-Windsor to know they are royalty. Hence Isaiah 45:4 says, 'For the sake of my servant Jacob, And of Israel My chosen, I call also thee by thy name, I surname thee, And thou hast not known me.' Do you know who you are or you need your surname to remind you?
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

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