THE ALTERNATIVE With Reno Omokri
In 1995, India changed the names of the cities of Calcutta, Bombay, and Bangalore back to their original names before the British colonialists (a much better term than colonial masters) bastardised them.
And so, Calcutta became Kolkata, Bombay became Mumbai and Bangalore reverted to Bengaluru.
Before then, India had changed the English name of the state then called Travancore-Cochin to the Indian name of Kerala in 1956.
Ceylon even went further and changed its former British colonial name to Sri Lanka in 1972 to reflect its history and culture.
Ceylon is a transliteration of Ceilao, which is a Portuguese word (the Portuguese were the first colonialists in Sri Lanka. This has bearing for Nigeria, as I will soon show).
So many other nations have changed either their names or names of their states/cities from foreign influenced names, to indigenous names. Examples include Burma (now Myanmar), Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
I am a very avid traveller, and I have never seen a country with as many symbols of colonialism hidden in plain sight as is the case in Nigeria.
Let us examine a few questions. First of all, why do Nigerian judges and lawyers still wear a white wig? Yes, we adopted that ridiculous custom from the British colonialists. But they have been gone for almost 60 years. Why do we still linger in this outdated practice that had even been jettisoned (in part) by the British themselves?
Nigeria is a nation suffering from a terrible inferiority complex. Ours is so bad that we deny our accent and try to speak like Europeans and Americans, not knowing that our accent is one of the sexiest accents on earth. Many of us bleach our skins to look like what we are not. Meanwhile, those we are trying to look like are spending close to $5 billion annually to tan their skins and look a little like us.
These behaviours have their roots in our colonial history and the fact that Nigeria, unlike many other nations that were also colonised, has done very little to purge itself from the vestiges of colonialism.
As I said previously, many nations have changed the name given to them by their colonial masters, to more befitting historical names (Gold-coast is now Ghana).
Have we even asked ourselves where the name Nigeria came from? The name Nigeria was given to her by Lord Lugard’s girlfriend. They told us it meant Niger Area. But it could easily mean something else (a racial word for a Black person beginning with N, so N***** Area).
Can we not pick a better name? The town in Delta state called Escravos, means SLAVE in Portuguese. It was the Portuguese who named it. Over 200 years later, don’t we have the decency to change the name of a town from SLAVERY to Freedom?
Upper Volta is now Burkina Faso (thanks to that great African patriot, Thomas Sankara). Can we not do the same? The name ‘Upper Volta’ was given to that nation by French colonialist after the Volta River which flows across the country, just like Nigeria was supposedly given to Nigeria because of the River Niger.
In renaming his country, Thomas Sankara also used the opportunity to build unity amongst its various tribes. Burkina means “honest people” in Mossi language (also known Mòoré) while Faso means “fatherland” in Dioula language. The two words put together means “land of the honest people.”
In Nigeria though, we still have not found our own Thomas Sankara. We came close though in 1978, General Olusegun Obasanjo came close when he changed our National Anthem from the old colonial ‘Nigeria we hail thee’, to the ‘Arise o Compatriot’ that we have today.
Can you imagine that The Nigerian Army still marches and sings to ‘eh shobe’! It was not until I went to school in England that I discovered that eh shobe! was in reality ‘APES OBEY!’. It was used by English sergeant majors to drill the Hausa Constabulary during colonial times.
The word ‘Lagos’ is a Portuguese word meaning lake. We don’t even pronounce it right. It is actually pronounced lah go. The town of Lagos has its original name, Eko. Why must we adopt and accept the name the Portuguese gave it? What is wrong with its original name?
Port Harcourt was named after the British Secretary of State for the Colonies. This man had a very unsavoury reputation and I can’t even mention some of it here for decency’s sake. Yet we still retained the name. Can’t we change Port Harcourt to its original name? Even the word we use for our children has a sinister history.
It even affects our self-image. For instance, I do not get why Africans/Caribbeans still use the pidgin word pikin to describe their children. That word comes from the word pickaninny, which is a slave-era racial slur referring to a dark-skinned child of African descent. Stop calling your child what slave owners called them.
Nigeria needs a leader like Thomas Sankara. A leader who can aggregate the ethnic national identities of the various nationalities that make up Nigeria, a made up word dreamed up by Lord Lugard’s lady friend. Why can we not come up with a new name, like Wazobia for instance, instead of this name that may very well mean a racist ‘N****r Area.
Nigeria needs that leader like yesterday, and let me tell you, that leader is not Muhammadu Buhari. Not by a long shot. Not by a long shot!
Gather your children each morning as they get up and every night, just before they sleep, and pray with them. Let them learn the discipline of daily prayer from you. Life WILL be tough. And nothing will help them in those times like a habit of prayer. Throughout life, your children will need someone to talk to. If you don’t teach them who to talk to, they will talk to people who will use what they say against them. Teach them to talk to God. It is not your church’s responsibility. It is your DUTY #FreeLeahSharibu #RenosNuggets
There have only been two times in Nigeria where the leadership of Nigeria has been overwhelmingly dominated by Northerners. The first time was when General Muhammadu Buhari was a military head of state in 1983. The second time is when General Buhari was inaugurated for a second term. A leopard can’t change its spots. We now have the head of the Executive (Buhari) from the Northwest. Head of the Legislature (Lawan) from the Northeast. Head of the Judiciary (CJN Tanko) from the Northeast. As if that is not enough insult to the South, there are 10 law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Nigeria. They are ALL headed by Northerners, including the NPF, NSA, DSS, NIA, DMI, DIA, NPS, NCS, NIS, and EFCC. Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi and Adams Oshiomhole, clap for yourselves.