Names are given to serve mostly one purpose, identification. One important characteristic of names is that they are usually given by another to or of the other. It is not often that you find persons or people who gave themselves the names they go by. Since names are given by another to the other then it becomes necessary to let the others who will do the most calling say the names as it will be convenient for them. We can also stretch the same reasoning and apply it to languages in that aspect. When we insist on applying too many rigid rules on how a language or name has to be said by strangers, then the so-called standardizing rules become obstacles to outsiders who are interested in learning to speak it. In my opinion one should consider it an honor or simply a good gesture from others who are making efforts at learning another’s language. The names of a person/persons and geographical places, animals, plants and things are given most often to reflect some obvious characteristics peculiar to the person, people, object or place being named. It can also come from the result of event that took place in the place being named, or in the case of a person or a group of people, the name could be to reference the place of birth or event that happened around the time of birth. Sometimes it could be a wish as to the ideal character you would want the person being named to eventually assume.
The purpose of any language is basically for communication. It is therefore the duty of the owners of the language to try to understand it from the stranger or learner’s stand point. Try to listen and imagine what the stranger is trying to say rather than constantly interrupting him from his train of thought by frequently correcting him on how he should dot the I’s and cross the T’s of your language or name. This liberal attitude is important because we are living in the age in which only the societies that are willing to open up more will win over the closed ones. A language and or a people can only remain relevant when they are dynamic enough and in sync with prevailing trends. If others would call us by anything or anyhow, let them have it as they would please. What really matters is how we call ourselves through our attitudes and conducts.
Language, we must acknowledge, does serve other functions such as in art, both literary and visual. We suggest that the artists among us should be charged with the responsibility of refining, preserving some of the aesthetic parts and elevating the language to the lofty heights we can all be proud of. But today as everybody will agree, we earnestly want other people to hear our story, the Igbo story, the Biafran story. We want the world to know that we are presently in an imminent danger from our neighbors, Nigeria and from our “elite”. And given the seriousness of our situation if our name were said or spelled in whatever form while we are in the process of getting across our message then it would not really cause any real and permanent harm.
Right now what we consider as important is how to get our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and all over the world to begin to call us by our real name by acting and living with enough pride and utmost human dignity. It is our belief that our conducts and attitudes will earn us the name we would want to be addressed by eventually. With the right attitude, our name, the Igbo name, will become Truth Lovers and Tellers, Sincere and Honest men and women, Igbo-Patriots who love and cherish the Igbo even in our secret private lives, Not ashamed to stand by our inner convictions no matter who we are dealing with, Never thinking or acting to satisfy the wishes of another to the detriment of our own people and children and their future. Yes, the Igbo name can be so glorious when we begin to talk and act on the truth and the realities of our time.
Names and words in languages change or get modified with time and it is nothing negative or derogatory even when the change is coming from the outside. It is for this reason we should be liberal and give it to outsiders and let them choose, with some subtle guide from us, how they want to say our name and words in our language. It is usually out of this liberality that a language grows and becomes robust, constantly enriched and refreshed. The more liberal and accommodating a language is, the richer and bigger the vocabulary. Igbo, Ibo, Igbos, Ibos, Ebo, Igbolis, Igbolese, Ibolis, Ibolese, Ndigbo, Ndibo, etc, whichever way anyone chooses to call us by should not cause us to lose any sleep as a result. Let our language artists worry about standardizing the name and language but for now let us busy ourselves at convincing the world and us on the inhuman condition we are going through in Nigeria. Nigeria is a dead enterprise and can never work, it was never made for the good of the Igbo and the Igbo will never have a future in it. We will become very distinguished only on the day that we have freed our people from Nigeria and established a befitting homeland in Biafra for them.
As we have seen, names of persons, peoples, villages, towns, cities, nations, continents, places, animals, plants, things, are always given by others rather than by self. Parents give children’s names. Names are given to depict or reflect a person’s or people’s unique characteristic or circumstance of birth or conditions, etc. Names could and does change if or when those circumstances or conditions or the first wishes have changed. There is nothing wrong with that, it only takes into consideration the fact that life and existence are dynamic and subject to change as it becomes necessary. This then makes it very hard to understand why some people, the Igbo especially are finding it so difficult to know that Nigeria of the luggardian era has passed and that whatever remnant that is left has outlived its first purpose and must now end for another to take its place. In this case it has to be several others. Just like you do not expect to give just one name to one’s many off-springs there are different names for the emerging children that are coming out of the deceased Nigeria - Biafra Republic, Arewa Republic, Oodua Republic and as many other entities who may wish to be separately identified.
The struggle with trying to find a perfect name does not make anyone what he or she will truly be known by. If you would be defined as you would wish then act as you would wish to be known or called. It is your conduct and attitude that give you the name you will be called by. The present Igbo conduct is what will continue to characterize and define the Igbo until we decide that we have had enough and are ready to change our name or rewrite the name in the way and manner we would wish to be addressed by others and by ourselves. Before then it will be a waste of time trying to perfect the writing of the Igbo name when we presently have a false name that does not and should not belong to us – Coward (applicable to just the so-called Igbo-nigeria elite, of course). So, the question is why would anyone seek after a unique identity when he is unwilling to defend it and distinctly represent that identity? Remaining in Nigeria will never give us that identity we are seeking because our sterling identity will continually be soiled and dragged to the gutter by Nigeria. The identity the Igbo and the rest Biafrans are seeking is a bright and shining star distinctiveness. The identity we are looking for is that of being positive and active contributors to the world’s commonwealth, progress and security rather than terrorism, Islamic violence and gruesome murders, genocide, igbocide, biafracide and mass murders.
The current Igbo in Nigeria no matter how they would rather have their names written or called will not make any difference. The true definition of the current Igbo in Nigeria can only be characterized as cowardice, selfishness, lack of care for others or the care for their reputation or for their children’s future, an unreflective group of people who would not mind if you killed and raped their children in their presence. They do not mind if you beheaded and spiked their heads and jubilated about town dancing with the severed heads held aloft – a disgusting symbol of disgrace and denigrating defeat. They are so insensitive that they do not care if their property is looted and burnt and they are constantly sacked by Nigeria and Nigerians who are supposed to be fellow citizens. No they can always return and build from the scratch and accumulate only to be sacked and looted again and again. Such is the only name being assumed by all Igbo-nigerians of today and so will the name remain till we decide to redeem ourselves and sanctify again our image. This responsibility of saving us lies squarely at the door steps of our elite, wherever they may be. They are the ones who must tell Nigeria that we have had enough of this retarded, strange and archaic form of existence and “governance”.
The day we as a people begin to act collectively and responsibly with the desire to earn respect from our peers in the world then we will always be conscious of every utterance and action we make and subject them to the often uncomfortable light of honest self-criticism. From then the question will always be, what I am about to say or do will it earn me and my people, the Igbo, Biafra, respect and prestige that befit our collective aims and aspirations? How will my today’s actions, decisions, choices and utterances impact my people, my nation – Biafra in the next fifty, one hundred or more years from now? Let nobody get it wrong, we are not preaching here any form of sanctimonious holier-than-you and abstract cult. No, this is an attitude that is practical and not hard to adopt in one’s daily conducts when we recognize that it is for our own interests and benefits both as individuals and as a group.
In conclusion, we must say that this current degrading appellation that we as a people go by cannot be said to apply to our so many great compatriots who are too many to enumerate here. These mighty heroes put their lives and comfort on the line, fighting day and night to cleanse the Igbo name of all forms of pollution and disrepute. We know them and salute them and will never forget.