Who cares whether you name your kid John or Margaret while living in a western country. Who cares if you carry both John and Margaret to the far east or the closer Africa. Whereas classmates of your kids will welcome it if you name your kid Cock or Gaylord, the rest of the world is apathetic. However in the Middle East and parts of Nigeria, a parent has a stake in the name of child; like a contract that screws you for breaching it.
I remember a teacher in my secondary school named his kid some name on the fringe of names; “Testimony” i think (Personally I think that is not the best name in English). At first we thought it was a joke until the teacher started telling us how he researched names and ended up deciding by opennnig a random page of the bible (or dictionary) and thus became of Testimony. In hindsight, the teacher was not from a culture that screws parents for bad naming. Obviously!
The Middle East. Don’t get too comfortable with your name just because you have written it on every form with “Name” for over twenty years. The rules are different there. After giving birth to a first child, the parents’ names changes the moment they pronounce the child’s name. If the child is named Ahmad, the father instantly becomes Abu-Ahmad and the mother Umm-Ahmad. There are similar trends in parts of Nigeria with a less binding contract. If this family were to move to parts of Northern Nigeria, they’ll become Baban-Ahmad and Maman-Ahmad. If it is to parts of Southern Nigeria, it will be Papa-Ahmad (or Baba-Ahmad) and Mama-Ahmad.
The points are two. First, the similarities in two far-away cultures. Second, parents pay heavy price for naming their kids sloppily; probably for the rest of their lives.
An advice to those living in these areas or cultures, it might not be funny if you were thinking on playing a practical joke on your kid by naming him Cock or Gaylord. If you get a kick from playing lifetime jokes on your kids, the fun is not all lost. These naming conventions tend to apply to first borns only. Therefore you can name your first born appropriately and then have fun with as many as your other children. Wait, there is a caveat in Nigeria; If one of your other children ends up being significantly more charismatic than your first born, people will start naming you after that child… so be careful.
But this presents us with an opportunity to be creative in naming babies, hence in re-naming ourselves. Think about it as rebranding yourself. If you were an Arab what name would you choose for your kid (actually I mean for you)? What about a Nigerian?
Here’s a suggestion, as an Arab, name your kid Dhabi. The father becomes Abu Dhabi.
Intermission: In the entertainment industry, there is hardly anyone who has enjoyed rebranding his name as much as Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy, aka Puffy, aka Puff, aka P Diddy, aka Diddy aka… If you happen to live in some cultures then you get the chance to rebrand (rename) ur self at the expense of your baby.