Igbo Names and the Anglicizing movement

by Paul Chika Emekwulu

Some people might be wondering why I should be worried about how Igbo names are written and spelt in the midst of all these true and untrue stories about Corona virus – a virus that has killed thousands globally.

Well, my answer is simple and it is this: When Coronavirus is gone and it will, our names will stay with us. True or False!

Anglicizing of Igbo names is now a movement. Why? It is a movement because it is astronomically gaining currency.

Yes, it is a movement and individually and collectively, we have to fight against it.

Now let’s get into it and we are starting with common mistakes we make knowingly in writing and spelling some Igbo names.

This is found in printed books, this is found in newspapers, this is found in magazines, this is found in newsletters, this is found in Church bulletins, and this is found on TV screens and so on. This is what I call the “anglicizing movement”.

Now, let’s look at them case by case:

Case 1

Affixing “h” at the end of these and other Igbo names and places is wrong e.g.

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Ezeh for Eze
Umeh for Ume
Mbah for Mba
Udoh for Udo
Metuh for Metụ
Onwurah for Ọnwụra
Okoh for Oko

Case 2

Writing the following and other Igbo names and places with an “r” at the end is wrong and should as a matter of urgency discouraged. e.g.

Anakor for Anakọ
Ejiofor for Ejiọfọ
Jideofor for Jideọfọ
Nsọfọr for Nsọfọ
Nwankwor for Nwankwọ
Mgbafor for Mgbafọ
Okafor for Okàfọ
Ezekafor for Ezekafọ
Nnajiofor for Nnajiọfọ
Nwafor for Nwafọ
Ukpor for Ụkpọ

This is in addition to not making room for the “kpom” that goes with the vowel “o” like in Anakor or Ejiofor and other similar cases.

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“ọr” and “or” cannot be compared to gb, kw, gw, ny, kp, ch.

Some of us are busy anglicizing our names to make them look English. Like weed in the garden, this attitude has to be discouraged whenever and wherever found or noticed.

Case 3

Other cases that I will classify as “miscellaneous” include substituting the letter “i” for “y” e.g. Nwakoby for Nwakaobi. This is wrong and not only that. The sense impression is lost. It is wrong because in Igbo Language, “y” has never been a substitute for “i”, is not, and will never be.

This practice has to be discouraged. The goal for doing so is the same and we know it – to force Igbo names to look either English or look like names from Eastern Europe.

Case 4

Look at another case. Another case involves affixing the letter “r” in the middle of a name e.g. Aforka for Afọka. This is totally wrong.

There are other examples. I cannot list all of them here. Doing so probably needs more than has been done here.

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Please, let’s be proud of our Igbo names and of course, our language as well.

Someone has to point out these things wherever and whenever found or noticed. Moreover, it was Albert Einstein, a German-Ametican physicist, scientist, mathemstician and philosopher who said that the world we live in is dangerous not because of those who do the evil, but because of those who do not do anything about it.

What are your thoughts?