Wednesday, 20 January 2010


‘Good morning aunty’
‘Good morning class!’

We all fell silent when Miss Christie entered the class that morning. I quickly threw the piece of paper I was playing with under my chair and stepped on it hoping that she would not see it as she walked around the class taking attendance.

‘Lanre Fajumo’
‘Present aunty’

I have never understood why we had to call our teachers aunty and uncle when they aren’t really our uncles and aunties but after spending my first year in Nigeria, I understood that everyone above a certain age went by the name aunty or uncle.

‘Today’s lesson is about names’

She scribbled away on the chalk board as she spoke, her hips and bum shaking to the rhythm in her voice. When she finished writing the day’s topic she turned to face the class.

‘Starting from the front I want you to tell the whole class your first name and your Christian name’

Excited that I had my answer ready as always and confident that I would live up to my ‘teacher’s pet’ status, with a broad smile on my face, I waited my turn. When she pointed her long fingers at me to signal my turn, I stood up and shouted.

‘Olanrewaju Olujimi’

I waited for her to finish writing my name on the board and say the obligatory Very good Lanre but when she had only written my first name, she turned around to face the class.

‘Did I not say that I wanted your Christian name before we started this exercise?’ I was a little taken aback by the question so I looked at her waiting for her to explain herself.

‘What is your Christian name Lanre?’

Now I wasn’t sure what she wanted from me so I repeated my Christian name. ‘Olujimi’
‘You are in primary three and you don’t know your Christian name? Here’s is your homework, when you get home tonight ask your parents, write it down and bring it back to school tomorrow.’
She put a dash where my Christian name was meant to be and moved on to the next person who proudly shouted out her Christian name.


I kept to myself for the rest of the day and when my best friend Mariam asked us to go the playground like we normally do? I said no, I would rather have lunch in class by myself. In the end, she stayed with me.

When dad got home from work that evening, I asked him what my Christian name was. He responded, ‘Olujimi’
‘That’s exactly what I told my teacher today and she said I was wrong and I should ask my parents when I get home, write it down and bring it in with me tomorrow.’

My dad sat me down and explained to me the meaning of my Christian name OLUJIMI, God’s gift to me.
'You are God's gift to me' he further explained.

‘Why can’t I have an English name like everyone else?’ I asked.

‘Because you’re not English’ he responded.

Armed with all that information, I returned to school the next day clutching my homework in my hands.

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