International Journal of Research and Development Studies                 Volume 8, Number 1, 2017

 

ISSN: 2056 – 2121

© 2017 McEvans Publishing Company

 

RETHINKING THE ETHNOLOGY OF NAMES AS COMMUNICATION CHANNELS IN NIGERIA

 

1Amadi, Richard Nlemanya, 2Efetobor O. Elijah and 3Nwaubeta, Nnennaya Grace

1Department of Mass Communication, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. 2Department of Mass Communication, Joseph Boakai College of Social and Management Sciences, Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, Nigeria,  3Port-Harcourt Polytechnic, Rumuola, Rivers State, Nigeria

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ABSTRACT

Traditional channels of communication represent the most potent mechanism for communication among the various peoples of Africa. In Nigeria, names are channels of communication. Names are what people are known with and are called. From culture to culture, names communicate and tell stories about people and events/occurrences at the time of christening. The extent to which names are still appreciated in Africa as channels of communication in an era of westernization and globalization that has threatened this Afro-communication channel prompted this research. This study was tailored towards evaluating the exogenous and endogenous forces affecting names as ethnological communication mode, while using the study to descriptively bring this mode of communication to the fore in the face of westernization and modernity. Survey methodological approach was adopted. The study population was taken from six randomly selected states from the six geopolitical zones (Delta, Abia, Ekiti, Kaduna, Bauchi and Benue) which is 24,278,873 as obtained from the National Population Commission’s official website. The researchers used questionnaire in collecting of primary data. Representative sample of 278 was scientifically determined. Six research volunteers were trained and deployed to each of the six geopolitical zones. Evidence from research data reveals that Name as a veritable mode of communication in Africa, Nigeria in particular is grossly being cannibalized and is on the verge of dying. It was concluded that Despite the central place of African ethnocommunication in the perpetuation of African cultures, native or traditional names that should be an integral aspect of communication studies has been neglected by communication scholars. It was recommended amongst others that Nigerians must as a matter of necessity and urgency, identify themselves greatly with African traditional names, by being proud of their native names which serves as cultural heritage and identity.

Key Words: Exogenous, Endogenous, Rethinking, Name, Communication and Ethnology.

 

 INTRODUCTION

No doubt, name is an integral channel of communication in Africa, Nigeria in particular. In Africa, in spite of their great linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity, people have been communicating among themselves in a variety of ways for a long time. A look into the reality of the existence of indigenous communication systems in Nigeria shows that before the advent of modern means of communication, there were traditional means in Nigeria by which people communicate names inclusive. It is obvious that a variety of traditional communication channels like NAMES existed in Africa, particularly in Nigeria before the introduction of the modern mass media systems. Unfortunately, conventionalism has threatened this unique means of communication. Communication system in the view of Wilson (1982), which does not take into account the traditional, social and cultural dynamics of society, will only succeed in alienating the highly placed from the majority of the people in the rural areas. This statement summarizes the effect of negligence in the study of our indigenous sources of communication such as names. According to Ibagere (1994), Western education is the bane of these, as it has made people to continue regarding African communication systems with contempt. Again, Ibagere (1994, p.96) opines: The modern mass media, however, cannot serve, fully, the communication needs of Africa, unless they

 

International Journal of Research and Development Studies                 Volume 8, Number 1, 2017

 

are combined with the traditional modes of communication. Therefore, rather than supplanting these traditional modes, efforts should be geared towards harnessing and developing them to serve our information needs in general. Furthermore, Ugboajah (1972) cited in Wilson and Unoh (1991, p.28) stated, “The most important thing about Africa’s traditional communication is that the audience has learnt to attach great significance to it. Traditional media has force and credibility. They put stability into African’s indigenous institutions.”

One can therefore, argue like Opubor (1975) that African traditional channels of communication represent the most potent mechanism for communication among the various peoples of Africa. Notwithstanding the flaws that may be inherent in the traditional channels of communication in Africa, the fact remains as Hatchen (1971, p.15) pointed out, “the sheer range and variety of traditional communication offer a challenge to contemporary African communication scholars”. Before now, people pride themselves with native names.

 

In Africa, names are channels of communication. Names are what people are known with and are called. From society to society in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, names communicate and tell stories about people and events/occurrences at the time of christening. In fact, it is a pointed application of African communication to the situation and circumstance, especially during the period that the child is born. This is in fact the cultural dimension to naming. In Africa, once a child is born, the child is christened, which is referred to in Africa, as naming. It usually involves a ceremony; hence, Africans hold naming ceremonies, which in fact originated from the Bible. It is a common knowledge that in human history, human beings start using a name after christening. But today, it is either the parents give their children foreign names in the guise of baptismal names or the children at the teenage years prefer to change their names to reflect modernity and open-eye.

 

Statement of the problem

The cultural diversity of Africa and indeed Nigeria is indeed their strength. Various people of Africa had ways of communication that were as effective as modern day media of communication. Names remain one of such modes over the years. However, the era of westernization and globalization has consequently threatened this Afro-communication channel. However, the extent to which names are still appreciated in Africa as channels of communication, as well at the exogenous and endogenous cannibals to this unique more of communication prompted this research.

 

Research Objectives

The researchers intend to evaluate the Exogenous and Endogenous Influences on Names as a Channel of Communication in Nigeria. However, the following specific objectives define the research process:

  1. To ascertain the extent to which people see names as channel of African communication.
  2. To check if people still identify with African traditional names in our contemporary society.
  3. To check if contemporary names do perform communication functions.
  4. To evaluate the exogenous and endogenous factors affecting names as channels of communication.

 

Research Questions

The following Research Questions were framed to guide the study:

  1. To what extent do people see names as channel of African communication?
  2. Do people still identify with African traditional names in our contemporary society?
  3. Do contemporary names still perform communication functions?
  4. What exogenous and endogenous factors affect names as channels of communication?

 

 

 

 

Rethinking the Ethnology of Names as                     Amadi, R. N., Efetobor O. E. and Nwaubeta, N. G.

Communication Channels in Nigeria

 

Contribution to Literature

 We hope to contribute to literature through

 

  1. Theoretical study: to present the concept of NAMES as a potent channel for African communication, while exploring ways of entrenching this mode of communication in Africa, particularly in Nigeria.
  2. Explorative Study: This is addressed through an inquiry into the exogenous and endogenous forces that have affected names as veritable channels of traditional communication and defining ways of reviving this unique mode of communication.

 

Study Plan

First, the literature on African communication, particularly name is reviewed. Then, a quantitative and qualitative data collected from questionnaire and interviews on Names and its changing faces within the Nigerian context in accordance with the research objectives.

 

LITERATURE REVIEW

The Concept of Communication

Communication in general terms can be described as the act of sending and receiving messages from a source through a medium. Communication is a process by which a sender passes information to the decoder or receiver. It involves contacting, relaying and transferring of ideas, news, secrets, messages, orders and information from people, groups and communities to others.

MacBride et al (1981) define communication not just as the exchange of news and messages but as an individual and collective activity embracing all transmissions and sharing of ideas, facts and data. So, communication may be looked at as a system or process. However, Okunna (1999, p.6) contend that communication is a complex process. Because the communication process is an exchange or sharing of information or a message, it requires certain basic component. These include the source from whom the message originates; the medium through which the message is conveyed; the audience who receives the message; and the feedback which is the reaction of the receiver to the message.

 

Functions of Communication

Every society has evolved ways of transmitting information from one person to another and Nigeria is not an exception. In African, communication systems apart from transmitting information which includes the news function and other announcements, entertains, persuades, and also is used for social exchanges (Doob, 1966).

    MacBride et al (1981) identified some specific functions of communication as:

  1. Information: the collection, storage, processing and dissemination of news, data, pictures etc required for everyday life.
  2. Socialisation: the provision of a common fund of knowledge which enables people to operate as effective members of the society in which they live.
  3. Entertainment: the diffusion through signs, symbols, sounds and images for personal and collective recreation and enjoyment.
  4. Motivation: the fostering of individual or community activities, geared to the pursuit of agreed goals.
  5. Education: the transmission of knowledge so as to foster intellectual development, character formation and acquisition of skills.
  6.       Cultural promotion: the dissemination of cultural and artistic products for the purpose of preserving the heritage of the past.

 

African Communication Systems

Traditional communication is a complex system of communication, which pervades all aspects of rural African life. Olulade (1998) stated that traditional communication as used in Africa is an

 

International Journal of Research and Development Studies                 Volume 8, Number 1, 2017

 

admixture of social conventions and practice that have becomes blended into veritable communication modes and systems which have almost become standard practices for society. According to Denga (1988) cited in Mede (1998), it has varied characteristics which include dynamism and the fact of its being a multi-media and multi-channel system. It is perhaps the most important way by which the ruralites communicate among themselves and with others. Hoever, despite the advent of the modern day media in Africa, the use of traditional cues and materials such as NAMES is still very much common and adaptable, acceptable and recognizable by African.

 

History of Naming: The Etymology

Naming is what the westerners refer to as christening. It is old as the history of creation, probably extending into pre-historic era. The Holy Bible accounts for the etymology of naming when God told Adam to name all the creatures. According to Adeboye (2006) in Genesis 2:19-20; God organised a great naming ceremony. He created animals and brought them to Adam to name. This means that the creatures had no individual identities until they received impartation from Adam and became what he said each should be.

Upon child-birth, some families organise naming where friends and well- wishers are invited to celebrate with them for the new born. Although all cultures in Nigeria bear and use names, naming vary from people to people. In some cases, elaborate parties are thrown, while in others, simple parties are held depending on;

  1. The circumstances of a child’s birth
  2. Social life of the parents of the child
  3. Their level of income
  4. Family tradition
  5. Religious beliefs

Paradoxically, the level of income is arguably inconsequential as some people who can barely feed even throw elaborate naming. Some even borrow money to organise naming, Ogwezzy et al (2006)

Uniqueness of Traditional Communication Systems

Ours is a unique culture and tradition. Ogwezzy et al (2009) itemizes some of the uniques aspects of the communication system of people in Africa:

  1. It is understood by members of a community
  2. It readily appeals and connects with the people’s language, culture, belief, myth, legend and customs which enhances effectiveness of communication (relates to values, norms, ethos and culture of Africans)

iii. Uses symbols, values and indigenous institutions, which enhance messages’ effectiveness

iiii. Projects African historical past (traditions)

  1. Derived from the culture, beliefs, and the way of life of Africans
  2. Rooted among the local people and respected by the people, especially the ruralites

vii. Embedded in the culture of the people, which is the driving force

viii. Relies on indigenous technology, employs values and symbols that the people identify with

From a general viewpoint, African ethno communication is seen as a traditional or indigenous mode of communication. Name within the Nigerian context is an indigenous mode of communication as you move from one culture to the other. Indigenous communication is steeped in the culture and traditional of the people.

 

Types of Names

Across board, particularly within the ambit of Nigerian sociology, there are basically three types of names- Family, Personal and Creative Names (Ogwezzy et al, 2006). Family Name: Family name serves as family identity. It is what the West refers to as surname and in other situations, it is called last name. In Africa, specifically in Nigeria, a woman drops the family name when she is married and does a change of name to reflect the new family to which she has been married. If a woman does a change of name after marriage, the family/surname/last name that she dropped is

Rethinking the Ethnology of Names as                     Amadi, R. N., Efetobor O. E. and Nwaubeta, N. G.

Communication Channels in Nigeria

 

normally referred to as a maiden name. The people who argue that a woman should change her name after marriage believe that it is for the woman to identify with her marital family. On the other hand, the priest who argues from a spiritual perspective believes that it is for the woman to take on the destiny of her husband. That is, for them to have a common destiny as the two have become one.

However, many women, who have made marks in their professions before marriage, do not find it easy to change names as they have been known in their careers by their maiden names. Also, there are those whose maiden names give additional advantage in the public sphere because of their fathers’ exploits in the public sphere. Such women either continue to use their maiden names in the public sphere or add their husbands’ surnames to their maiden names to form compound surnames.

Personal Name: This is the identity of a particular person. A personal name is what belongs to a person. There are mainly two types of personal names – first name, the name by which a person is commonly called; and second/other name(s), the name(s) apart from the first name.

Creative name: This is name by which a person is popularly called. It is not family or “personal”, but a name coined from a person’s personal or family name, exploits and/or character. It is what the person is popularly referred to as. If care is not taken, people may think it is the person’s personal name. It is the guy-name of a person or a pet name. It could be what a husband calls the wife, parents call their children, peers call peers. They could be derived from personal names or made up by combining people’s initials. For instance, Zik from Isaac, Chuks from Chukwuka, Tega from Oghenetega, O’yoma from Ogheneyoma, Bola from Adebola, Abdul from Abdullahi and many more. Within the African precincts, some names have been so transformed creatively to the extent that they have become anglicised and almost lost the meanings/origin.

 

Religious Naming

A religious name is a name given to a child based on the religion or faith of the parents. Essentially, it signifies family identity with a religion. For instance, a child born into a Christian or Muslim family is expected to be given a Christian or Muslim name based on religion or faith of the parents. This also applies to those who practice African traditional religion (ATR). However, if people convert to any religion, they normally adopt a name to reflect their new religion/faith.

Christianity being a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, parent Christians normally choose a day to name their children. In Nigeria, some are done after the seventh, eighth or ninth day depending on the culture of the ethnic group of the parents. Once a date has been chosen and agreed upon by the parents of the new born, priest, normally the pastor of the parents is communicated and invited. On the day, songs of worship and praise are rendered in an atmosphere of celebration. The pastor prays for the child and pronounces the name(s) of the child. Normally, the ceremony is characterised by eating, drinking and dancing.

The names given could be from the dictionary of Christian names, the Holy Bible or coined from the parents’ knowledge of the Bible and/or level of faith. Those from the Holy Bible and in most cases are of Jewish and Hebrew Origin. Such are names of great men/women, Jesus’ disciples, prophets, and even kings. For instance, Abigail is a Hebrew name meaning the joy of the father, Ogwezzy et al (2006).

Other examples of Christian names include:

➢ Amos:​Burden bearer

➢ Barnabas:​Son of consolation

➢ Christiana:​Christ-bearer

➢ Daniel:​God is my judge

➢ Elijah:​Jehovah is God

➢ Emmanuel:​God with us

➢ Isaac:​​Laughter

➢ Jacob:​Supplanted

➢ Naomi:​My delight

International Journal of Research and Development Studies                 Volume 8, Number 1, 2017

 

➢ Ruth:​​Beautiful and compassionate

➢ Zacharias:​Remember

The first stage in the naming of a child according to the Islamic faith, based on the teachings of Prophet Mohammed, is call to prayer “into the baby’s ears” – Adhan. During this stage, the child is exposed to Islamic call to prayer in the first moments of his/her life and a declaration of faith that “no one is to be worshipped except Allah”.

Ordinarily, this should be immediately after birth before the ears of the child hears anything. After which the news of the birth of the baby is disseminated to all. This is followed by supplication for the newborn. The next stage, according to Ogwezzy et al (2006) is shaving the baby’s hair on the seventh day after birth as prescribed for welcoming new babies by Prophet Muhammad saying Salalahu Alahi Wasalam (SAW) meaning “May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon you”. Shaving the hair is a form of cleansing to remove the dirt the baby brought from the mother’s womb. During the naming rite, the sacrifice –Aqueeqah, which involves slaughtering of two sheep for a baby boy and one sheep for a baby girl is performed. This is also done on the seventh day, when the child is named.

A child can be given a name indicating servitude to Allah by calling him Abdul Fatai (meaning servant of Allah who opens the door of blessings; Subuhanohu Wa Tahala (SWT), praise be to almighty Allah the highest; Abdullahi, the slave of Allah; Ar-Raheem, the most merciful and Abdul Rahaman, the most gracious as shown by the Hadith, Ogwezzy et al (2006).

Generally, Islamic names are derived from the teachings, life, birth and events that surround the birth of Prophet Mohammed and are mainly from Islamic laws and doctrine.

Other examples of Islamic names include:

➢ Aayan:​Gift of Allah

➢ AbdulKabir:​The greatest slave of Allah

➢ Abdulazeez:​The famous Allah

➢ Abdullahi:​The slave of Allah

➢ Abdulrasaq:​The blessing of Allah

➢ Hamudalat:​Glory be to almighty Allah

➢ Jubril:​Archangel

➢ Nasiru:​Be patient with almighty Allah

➢ Sikirulahi:​Remembrance of Allah

➢ Sukurat:​Praise Allah

➢ Umar:​​lifetime

In African traditional religion, parents give names to their new born babies based on their cultural beliefs or affiliation to a particular cult group or deities as worshipped by the family. Children are often given such names either as a symbol of appreciation to the deities or as a mark of dedication of such children to the gods.

In Nigeria, some are done after the seventh, eighth or ninth day depending on the culture of the ethnic group of the parents. Examples of such names are:

➢ Ogunmakin:​the god of iron takes victory

➢ Ogunmakinde:​the god of iron has brought the brave one

➢ Sangobiyi:​a child given by the deity Sango (god of thunder)

➢ Oyagbemi:​Oya, the goddess has rewarded me

➢ Chima:​​God knows

➢ Oluchi:​​God’s work

➢ Kasarachi:​Tell it to God

➢ Ugochi:​​God’s glory

 

Names as Communication Channels

In looking at a name as a channel of communication in Africa, Nigeria in particular, it is trite to state categorically that names function as means of identification. Several authorities such as Akpabio (2003); Olusanya and Olurode (1994); and Doob (1966) agree with this view. They argue

Rethinking the Ethnology of Names as                     Amadi, R. N., Efetobor O. E. and Nwaubeta, N. G.

Communication Channels in Nigeria

 

that more than identification, names communicate and provide a lot of information about their owners such as the bearer’s position in the family; the circumstances surrounding the birth of the bearer; parental /family situation; family hopes, desires, expectations and aspirations; financial situation; links with departed family member ancestors and a way of keeping records (i.e. historical accounts). Essentially, names tell stories about people and reveal a person’s place of origin, i.e. the part of Nigeria/Africa the person originates. For example, Abdullahi Jibia is the name of a man that comes from Jibia (a town in Katsina state); and Sada Mashi is the name of a man that comes from Mashi (a town also in Katsina state).

Apart from these, names could show the day the child was born, e.g. market days such as Nkwo, Eke, Orie and Afor (local week days), which can be likened to such English names that people bear in Africa (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) to reflect in English the day the child was born. Even, in Yoruba Land, a girl child born on a Sunday is referred to as Abosede. Names are also given to show whether the child was born during harvest time, planting season and war times amongst others.

 

Others reflect the birth order of a newborn child. The name Obianuju and Obianibeli names from the eastern part of Nigeria, which means a child that was born in the midst of plenty and a child that has come to enjoy wealth respectively. Again, apart from the main function of identification, it is the evidence of the origin of a person; most times name tells the circumstances surrounding the birth and it could imply the type of trade by which the family is known. For instance, in Ondo State, most names start with the prefix “Akin-“ (which means bravery) because they are believed to be very brave and “Ogun-“ (the god of iron), which depicts reverence for a deity associated with the Ondos and Ekitis. Olusanya and Olurode (1994) further add that apart from the identification function of names, they serve as links with departed members of the family and a system of record keeping. For instance, Yetunde among the Yorubas mean dead mother has come back again; while Doob (1966, p.191) stated that “It may suggest circumstances relating to the child’s birth or appearance; it may express a hope concerning parental disappointment; it may reflect feelings of the mother; or it may even be a brief adage”.

 

The Spiritual Implications of Names

It has been argued especially, by spiritual heads that names have implications for what the bearer would become or behave. In Nigeria today, people believe that one’s name could have very negative or positive implications for the bearer. While people have attributed successes of those who have been successful in life to their names, others believe their wretchedness is a product of their names. Hence, people midways decide to change their names, particularly when they believe their names could spell negative spiritual implications for their lives. Names can also reveal the source(s) of their bearers. For instance, in Yorubaland Esubiyi means satan has given birth to this one (child). Also, Ogunbiyi and Ifabiyi mean Ogun and Ifa have given birth to these ones respectively. That probably explains why some Christians, who become aware of the spiritual implications of these names (i.e. attachment to idols), change them to Oluwabiyi or Olubiyi, for short, meaning God has given birth to this one.In all the cases above, the names (i.e. Esubiyi, Ogunbiyi and Ifabiyi) reveal the idols that were consulted before the bearers were born.

 

The Neglect of African Ethnocommunication

Names, which has over the years been a potent means of cultural identity and communication has been grossly abused if not murdered. According to Ibagere (1994, pp.81-82),”Civilization, which has brought about modernization, has compelled the African to cannibalize some of the names that serve as traditional modes of communication”. The direction of modernization which has tilted strongly in favour of Westernization has dislocated almost all the modes, particularly names of people in the urban areas and supplanted them with westernized names.

Names as traditional modes of communication have continued to exist sparingly, even in the face of near extinction by the exogenous (outside) influences from the western media.

 

International Journal of Research and Development Studies                 Volume 8, Number 1, 2017

 

Today, foreign names are taking the central stage in the scheme of things. There have been various comments about traditional names like being ancient, barbaric, satanic, evil or deceptive. No matter how one sees it, traditional names remains an integral culture of Nigerians in their various individual cultures and serves as channels of traditional communication. Foreign media contents and influence are the exogenous factors that have collectively tried the wipe off traditional names from the face of Africa, Nigeria in particular.

Examples of Names and Their Meanings

Examples of Names in Some African Cultures and their meanings

Efik and Ibibio Names

Names​Meanings

  1. Ediekan​​Victory
  2. Utibe-Abasi ​​God’s Wonders
  3. Mma-Efiok ​​Woman with wisdom
  4. Ufeh​​Favour from God
  5. Ukeh ​​Gift
  6. Obong Ama​​God’s Love

Kalabari/Bonny/Ahoada Names (Bayelsa &Rivers States)

Names​Meanings

  1. Ayenate​​I have got my heart’s desire
  2. Prekunomaa​​God’s resources are limitless 
  3. Belema ​​Love
  4. Tamunosaki ​​God’s Time
  5. Nimisoye​​Wisdom is more profitable
  6. Idowari ​​My father’s House
  7. Ba so ene​​Tomorrow is another day/There is another opportunity
  8. Eneibi ​​Day of glad tidings/goodness

Itsekiri Names (Delta State)

Names​Meanings

  1. Ofe-oritse ​​Gift of God
  2. Boritsete​​The will of God
  3. Aminoritse​​Nobody knows the mind of God
  4. Aninoritse ​​God of mercy
  5. Eyewumi ​​I prefer life to death
  6. Amajuoritse ​​Nobody knows more than God
  7. Eguoritse​​The beauty of God
  8. Eyituoyo ​​This is joy

Yoruba Names (Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Oyo and Lagos States)

Names​Meanings

  1. Oluwasegun​​God conquers
  2. Ibukun ​​Blessing
  3. Oluwaseun ​​Thank God
  4. Ikudaisi ​​Death preserves this person
  5. Adegbesan​​The crown revenges
  6. Oluwatobi ​​God is great
  7. Olamide​​My wealth has come

Names from Edo State

Names​Meanings

  1. Ozikenoya​​God gives gift
  2. Omogbai​​Great child/son
  3. Osazee​​God’s chosen one
  4. Osasumwe​​God is with me
  5. Omosigho​​Child brings wealth
  6. Egheosaose​​God’s time is the best

Rethinking the Ethnology of Names as                     Amadi, R. N., Efetobor O. E. and Nwaubeta, N. G.

Communication Channels in Nigeria

 

Isoko Names (Delta State)

Names​Meanings

  1. Oghenevwigbarobo​​God has won the battle
  2. Ejuvokuoghene​​Leave it all for God
  3. Oboakponaroro ​​The way the world thinks
  4. Oghenevegba​​The power of God (God is the owner of power)
  5. Oghenenierovwo​​God answers prayer
  6. Ojiyovwi​ ​It is still good

South East Names (Abia, Anambra and Imo States)

Names​Meanings

  1. Chukwu Emeka ​​God has done it well
  2. Igwe bu ike ​​​My strength is in the multitude.
  3. Osita din ma​ ​​From today things have become better.
  4. Okwu uche ​​My mind has spoken.
  5. Osade bem ​​He has answered all my critics.
  6. Anya nsi agwu ​​The eyes of a divination deity that sees evil.
  7. Uwa laka ​​The world will continue to say what they want to say.  

No doubt, names as channels of communication have been grossly neglected. Today, people see traditional names as unattractive and outdated; hence they prefer westernized names that do not communicate anything. The heavy exposures of children, adolescence and teenagers to the western media, with the attractively meaningless names have continued to be the exogenous forces that have cannibalized traditional names in Nigeria.

Contemporary Names

  1. Mario
  2. Quincy ​
  3. Trump​ ​
  4. Donald ​
  5. Fredrick ​
  6. Bishop ​
  7. Teddy​

Meanings of these contemporary names cannot be ascertained by any standard, either religiously, culturally, traditionally or otherwise.

 

Theoretical Framework

Agenda Setting Theory as advanced by Mccombs and Shaw is considered appropriate in anchoring this research paper. This theory will be further explored to unveil its basic tenets and relevance to the subject matter. The theory posits that the mass media determines the issues that are regarded as important at a given time in a given society. That means that the press is significantly more than a purveyor of information and opinion; and though it may not be able to tell its readers what it thinks, it does successfully tell them what to think about. In other words, our perception of the world is dependent not only on our personal interests, but also on the map that is drawn for us by the media.

Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw (1972) corroborate the agenda setting theory by their research. They posit that:

In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality. Readers learn not only about a given issue, but how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position …The mass media may well determine the important issues- that is, the media set the ‘agenda’ of the campaign. (p.176)

The elements involved in agenda setting include:

  1. The quality or frequency of reporting
  2. Prominence given to the reports – headlines display, layout, timing on radio and TV set

 

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iii. The degree of conflict generated in the reports

iiii. Cumulative media-specific effects over time

​Theory that argues that media may not tell us what to think but that media tell us what to think about. This theory describes a very powerful influence of the media ability to tell us what issues are important. This implies that the mass media pre-determine what issues are regarded as important at a given time in a given society. The media can do this by constant hitting and pounding. This theory puts forth the ability of the media to influence the significance of events in the public's mind. The media set the agenda for the audience's discussion and mentally order and organize their world.  

The import of the theory in relation to this research is that names must be brought to the fore and redefined as a channel of African communication. The attention so given to it as the way people will see names as channels of communication will equally depend on how communication scholars raise the issue above the bar. Such agenda may be set through academic research or scholarly research paper like this.

 

Research Design and Methodology

This research adopted the descriptive research design. The study population was taken from the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria (Abia, Delta, Ekiti, Kaduna, Bauchi and Benue) which is 24,278,873, according to the 2006 census result.

 

   Table I: Population and Research Sample of Randomly Selected States

State        Population         Sample          Percentage

Delta        4,098,391          47                 17%

                      

Abia         2,833,999          32                 12%

 

Ekiti         2,384,212          27                 10%

 

Kaduna    6,066,562          70                  25%

 

Bauchi    4,676,465           54                  19%

 

Benue     4,219,244           48                   17%

 

Total      24,278,873         278                 100%

 

Source: National Population Commission official website

 

The researcher purposively selected the state capitals of the randomly selected states from the six geopolitical zones of this country. The rationale for the selection was based on the fact that the state capitals have the most educated people that can respond to the questionnaire. Questionnaire was used in the collection of data. The questionnaire was considered because the respondents were scattered in the sampled location (Six geopolitical zones of Nigeria). The researcher engaged the services of six research volunteers who were trained with the nuances of these research objectives. Data were collected with the use of a questionnaire, which contained fifteen items structured in closed-ended format with just one open ended question. The items were structured on differing point scales.

 

Data Analysis

Collected data were analyzed using frequencies and simple percentage interpretational analysis. Out of the 278 questionnaires administered across the six selected states in all the six geopolitical zones, all the copies were returned. However, 2 representing 0.7% were not properly filled. Hence, data collected from 276 or 99.3% were analyzed. The statistics are hereunder presented.

Rethinking the Ethnology of Names as                     Amadi, R. N., Efetobor O. E. and Nwaubeta, N. G.

Communication Channels in Nigeria

 

Research Question 1:   To what extent do people see names as channel of African communication?

DATA TESTED: Data generated from question 8 was used in analyzing this research question.

 

Table II:  Actually Seeing Names as Channel of African Communication

               Variable      No of Respondents     Percentage

               Yes                 71                           25.7%

               No                  205                         74.3%

Total                              276                         100%

Source: Field Data, 2016

​             

Presentation of research data on Table II shows that 71 or 25.7% of the respondents actually see names as channel of African communication; however, 205 representing 74.3% of them do not actually see names as channel of African communication. By implication, the people in our contemporary society do not see names as channel of African communication.

 

Research Question 2:

 Do people still identify with African traditional names in our contemporary society?

DATA TESTED: Data generated from question 11 was used in analyzing this research question.

 

Table III:  If Respondents Still Like Their Native Names in Our Contemporary Society              Variable      No of Respondents        Percentage

                  Yes                      34                      12.3%

                  No                       121                     43.8%

                  Somehow             94                      34.1%

                  Can’t say              27                      9.8%

Total                                     276                     100%

Source: Field Data, 2016

Presentation of research data on Table III shows that 34 or 12.3% of the respondents still liked their native names even in our contemporary society; 121 representing 43.8% of them differed; 94 representing 34.1% of them said they still liked their native names somehow even in our contemporary society. However, 27 representing 9.8% of the respondents were undecided. By implication, the people in our today Nigeria do not identify so much with African traditional names.

 

Research Question 3: Do contemporary names still perform communication functions?

DATA TESTED: Data generated from question 13 was used in analyzing this research question.

 

Table IV:  If Respondents Actually Draw Meanings from Their Other Names

Variable    No of Respondents       Percentage

 Sure               81                          29.3%

 

 No                 64                          23.2%

 

Somehow       101                         36.6%

 

Can’t say        30                          10.9%

 

Total             276                           100%

Source: Field Data, 2016

 

 

International Journal of Research and Development Studies                 Volume 8, Number 1, 2017

 

Research data as presented on Table IV shows that 81 or 29.3% of the respondents actually draw meanings from their names that are not traditional; 64 or 23.2% of them differed; 101 representing 36.6% of them said they somehow draw meanings from their names that are not traditional. However, 30 representing 10.9% of the respondents were undecided. Impliedly, contemporary names do not perform communication functions. Such names as drawn from research data are: Jonzy, Marycee, Lemony, Stuart, Sporty etc.

 Research Question 4: What exogenous and endogenous factors affect names as channels communication?

DATA TESTED: Data generated from question 16 was used in analyzing this research question.

Table V:  Factors That Influenced Respondents’ Name Change Factors  

No of Respondents    Exogenous

204                           Religion

 

196                           Mass Media

 

221                           Spirituality

 

 65                            Endogenous Modernity

 

210                            Education

 

85                              Peer Imitation

 

79                              Culture

Source: Field Data, 2016

Presentation of Research data on Table V shows religion, mass media (books and films) and spirituality are the exogenous or external factors influencing name change and by extension, affecting its communicative functions in our today society. On the other hand, modernity, education, peer imitation and culture are the endogenous or internal factors influencing name change and by extension, affecting the communicative functions of names in our today society. These factors are further explained in Table VI below.

 

 Table V:  Explanation of Exogenous (External) Endogenous (Internal) Factors                       Influencing Name Change

Religion

People changing their names to fit their new religion, particularly those that converted to a new religion.

Mass Media

Constant exposure to television viewing and reading of print media like book influenced name change.

Spirituality

The need to be spiritually connected with the Supreme Being, and attract spiritual favour from the Supreme Being also influence name change among people.

Modernity

The urge to identify with conventionalism makes people change their name.

Education

The level of education of an individual could lead to name change, particularly those who want to bear the name of successful men in the world of education.

Peer Imitation

People join the band wagon by imitating the names of peer group members and friend. People change names to fit that of their friends.

Culture

Rethinking the Ethnology of Names as                     Amadi, R. N., Efetobor O. E. and Nwaubeta, N. G.

Communication Channels in Nigeria

 

People change their names to fit the culture to which they belong.

 

Findings

Premised on evidences from research data, the following findings are hereunder stated:

  1. Name as a veritable mode of communication in Africa, Nigeria in particular is grossly being cannibalized and is on the verge of dying.
  2. Evidences from research data indicate that the people in our contemporary society do not see names as channel of African communication.
  3. Research data shows that the people in our today Nigeria do not identify so much with African traditional names.
  4. Contemporary names such as Jonzy, Marycee, Lemony, Stuart, and Sporty do not perform communication functions.
  5. Most Nigerians, based on evidences from research data, have other names like English names in addition to their native name.
  6. Based on research data, most Nigerians are in agreement that native names do carry meanings unlike the westernized names. However, other names are bereft of communication functions.
  7. At one point or the other, people changed their names. The change of names is usually due to some exogenous and endogenous factors.
  8. Research data shows that religion, mass media (books and films) and spirituality are the exogenous or external factors influencing name change and by extension, affecting its communicative functions in our today society. While modernity, education, peer imitation and culture are the endogenous or internal factors influencing name change and by extension, affecting the communicative functions of names in our today society.

Recommendations

Based on the findings of this research, the following recommendations were made.

  1. As name being a veritable mode of communication in Nigeria is grossly being cannibalized and is on the verge of dying, something urgent must be done to address this anomaly. The communication media must brace up to this challenge to set agenda in this regard.
  2. Development scholars, NGOs and civil society must raise the bar and help educate Nigerians on the need to see native names as channels of communication.
  3. Nigerians must as a matter of necessity and urgency, identify themselves greatly with African traditional names. They must be proud of their native names as it serves as cultural heritage and identity.
  4. Contemporary names such as Jonzy, Marycee, Lemony, Stuart, Sporty that do not perform communication functions must be discouraged and dropped outrightly. Parents and soon-to-be parents must checkmate this trend to safeguard our cultural identity and heritage.
  5. Change of name at one point or the other is good. However, such a change must conform with communicative ideals of native names and not necessarily premised on identified exogenous (religion, mass media and spirituality) and endogenous (modernity, education, peer imitation and culture) factors.

 

CONCLUSION

​The researchers conclude based on empirical evidence that the findings of this research are in perfect agreement with the objectives earlier stated in this study. It is also concluded that names communicate and that there is a correlation between the name given to a child and that of child’s soul/destiny. Hence, the saying, that when a name is given to a child, the child’s soul or spirit must give assent by saying “yes” to the name. Despite the central place of ethnological communication in Nigeria, the perpetuation of cultural, native or traditional names that should be an integral aspect of communication studies have been neglected by communication scholars.

 

Future Direction

As future study, researchers can investigate Names and its socio-cultural and religious implications on the bearer within the framework of African culture and tradition.

International Journal of Research and Development Studies                 Volume 8, Number 1, 2017

 

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