SUNDAY IGBOHO WAS NOT BORN ON A SUNDAY

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Let us take our minds off serious things (read “security issues”) for a moment and do a mundane “talk-talk” in order to entertain the people of the Southwest region of Nigeria who have had causes to be tensed these past couple of weeks. There is something interesting about those of us male children named “Sunday.” I was born on the 10th of October 1970. The gist about Sunday Igboho is he was born on the 10th of October 1972; obviously, Mr. Igboho was born on my second birthday.

If I was born on a Sunday, and 1972 being a leap year, it follows therefore that Sunday Igboho was born on a Wednesday and his name should be “Wednesday Igboho” as of today. This is where it gets really interesting. Guess what? I was not born on a Sunday! Actually, 10th October 1970 was a Saturday. It should be easy to determine that Sunday Igboho was born on a Tuesday and to get everything about his nomenclature untwisted he should be known as “Tuesday Igboho.” The coincident day-month of 10/10 separated by only two years makes it impossible for two male kids to be born on Sunday.

What’s going on here? It has been a staple of my Idoma culture to have older ones “book in advance” to have a nephew or a niece in particular but also including a cousin of the first order named after them; my father got his wish by having his nephew named after him (Jonah Sule, who is currently an active serviceman of the Nigerian Army) just before I was born but my soldier-dad was not so keen to christen me “Sule” after his older brother (this would have made me “Sule Jonah” to this day). By the time of my birth, young men of my father’s generation were “guy men” who were hitting adolescent as Nigeria transited from a British colony to an independent country; the positive influence of the “Whiteman culture” of the 1950s could be felt in the hope and unbridled determination that the young men of my father’s generation had.

In my hometown district of Ugboju, as was true in nearly all parts of Idomaland, British colonialists began to really set roots in the 1950s, bringing with them education and the beauty of a new religion that contrasted the forced conversions my folks were compelled to do when unknown horsemen, with their conquered Igala foot-soldiers as co-enforcers, invaded our domains, broke our earthenware of locally-brewed drinks on market days, slaughtered our young men, and forced the remnant folks to “face east” or the direction of the rising sun whilst chanting some even more perplexing tongue in “prayer”.

This explains for the names “Abu and Sule” (“Abubakar and Suleiman”) for my dad’s older twin brothers; Sule was keen to have a “namesake” and the Abu I grew hope knowing would have loved that privilege too, but Uncle Sule beat him to it. Thus, no “guy man,” especially a fresh Civil Warrior would want an Abakpa-sounding name for his first born in the confines of the then bivouacs of soldiers (in my native Idoma tongue, the term “Abakpa” is used as a designator for “Islam” or “Muslim;” for those who have been curious about this, the neighbourhood of Abakpa in Kaduna metropolis was bequeathed by Idoma textile workers who were resident at “the place of Abakapa people” in those hey days of blossoming industrialisation of Northern Nigeria).

My daughter even had her mother’s first cousin, the recently-deceased Hajiya Hajara Amodu-Ogwu, “booked” to have my daughter named after her and to this day I call my daughter “Hajiya;” now, enter my soldier-dad, Jonah, who once again, was not so keen about an Abakpa-sounding name for his oldest grandchild and he duly proceeded to “nack ‘um something” in the form of an “English name” but the name “Hajiya” has apparently stuck within my close family units.

And, oh, as I got older I realised that there was once a preponderance of Abakpa-sounding names in my family and even some Kano-centric roots. My mother was once called Jenebu (this was obviously “Zainab” in the Idoma tongue), there is a maternal aunt still known as Adija (this is “Hadiza;” no wonder I was right on the mark when I guessed that the singer Di’ja “be like Hausa girl” when I first read about her. My father actually named me for Uncle Sule’s oldest son, Sunday (one I now doubt was even born on a Sunday). Thus, who was Sunday Igboho named after? The old Oyo State had its unusual fair share of male Sundays (the late IGP, Sunday Adewusi; the present federal minister of sports and youth development, Sunday Dare; that infamous serial killer who only recently terrorised a neighbouhood of Ibadan, et al.).

Sunday Adole Jonah,

Department of Physics, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State