MAKING IT BETTER: Names, Titles, Roles and Identities

Atinuke, Abike, Oyetoke, Gloria in excelcis…!! These are just some of the names I was given at birth. The others are all similar, celebratory, glorifying and exalting. It’s that time again when we celebrate international women’s day and of all the things I had initially contemplated writing about, I eventually settled for focusing on myself.

I know there will be countless writings on all the many aspects of women’s suffering around the world. There can never be too many stories, and I stand with all my sisters, aunties, mothers, grandmothers, living and deceased. However, I choose to be introspective and to focus on myself this time around. Sometimes, that’s the right thing to do.

I just happened to stumble across my marriage certificate last week and i was struck by my names on it.  I had never really thought about it before but when I looked at all the names there and the ones that weren’t there but that I knew about, it made me smile. I have always felt strongly about giving children names that really embody who they are. Fortunately I come from a culture that takes naming their children quite seriously.

As I went through my names they made me smile. I really felt connected with my parents and the other elders from the hinterland who had sent names for me. They were all on the same page and had a very clear idea who they wanted this child (me) to be. It was their intention that I should be loved, revered, treated with care (..i am trying not to say that i should be spoilt!). Well, they set me up for life! I grew up thinking i was special. Not so much in an arrogant way, but more so that there was something inherently good about me. I tried to pass this on to my own children.

At this time when we are honouring women across the globe, I was thinking about the names, titles, roles and identities, even labels that we voluntarily or happily bear, wear and those that are forced on us.

Yes I have borne a few of those in my almost 6 decades on earth. Some I have been more successful at than others. Some have served me well, some i have struggled with. As I am honouring myself, I will focus on those titles, roles and identities that have meant the most to me and have shaped me and those that have given me the most pleasure.

I have always been enamoured with my names especially Gloria. Particularly because I was informed that after my mother had two sons and then I arrived she was so joyful that I was a girl that she yelled Gloria in excelsis day o! I felt her sense of joy and celebration at my birth right from my childhood and that carried on right through my infancy into my young adulthood until i sadly lost her in my late teenage years.

The role of a daughter was not one I experienced to my full capacity. It was incomplete because I enjoyed the role of being a young female child but I didn’t really have the opportunity to play the role of an adult daughter. I would have loved to have shown my parents how much I appreciated them as an adult. I would have loved for them to feel some of the pride I felt being their daughter.

I enjoyed my role of sister as I was blessed with two amazing brothers who treated me like an egg and spoilt me rotten! (I can admit it). I miss them terribly as they have also been taken from me far too soon. Again, I would have loved to have had more time to be able to return some of that love to them.

The three roles I have more association with and have lived more consciously are my roles and identity as a mother and a wife and professional. It’s interesting that these three are closely intertwined; I’m not quite sure what that tells me.

The different roles I have played in my career over the years have been so closely tied to who I am as a person that it’s almost impossible for me to separate the person from the job title. It’s been a vocation for me which has grown from strength to strength albeit sometimes unrecognisable and a mystery at times.

I have left my favourite roles to the last as they have also formed and defined me. My role as a wife was established 30 years ago and I believe someone was looking out for me because I got lucky with my choice. I have loved being a wife to my husband specifically because of who he is and the love he has for me and how he has chosen to express it. That covers everything!

My role as a mother is truly the mother of all roles in my opinion. Since the minute i set my eyes on those two infants my life changed in profound ways that words could never fully describe. They have had the capacity to render me giddy every time I see them and they are in their late twenties now! I suspect that will never change.

Becoming a mother has taught me about the true meaning of unconditional love. Again I was lucky with the two that were sent to me and they have truly been my most exquisite accomplishments!

I take this time to remember all women everywhere who continue to suffer for their gender, whose lives have been blighted because of their gender. I cry with and for you, I share in your anger and pain and stand with you in spirit.

I celebrate with all my sisters (and brothers) who continue in the fight to bring peace, harmony and equality to the lives of women whenever and wherever the can.

What names, roles, identities, titles most define you?



Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister

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2 Responses to MAKING IT BETTER: Names, Titles, Roles and Identities

  1. Femi Diipo March 10, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    Interesting piece. Such and all round accomplished life of a woman

  2. Olakunle Olajide March 13, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I immediately felt the pulse from this write up most especially with the names given to infants with cultural backgrounds. The old men and women always find a way to give names with so much meaning and attributes.
    To all the kind hearted women out there, I celebrate you once again. God bless you all.


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