Nigerian tribal names almost always have significant meanings. Most of the time, you are named depending on the circumstances surrounding your birth. ‘Ojima-ojo’ for example means Glory to God (for the birth of a child in this case I presume) and ‘Aladi’ means Sunday (given because I was born on a Sunday). That being said, it would be ridiculous for me to be literally named ‘Glory to God Sunday Abalaka’. Thank God for indigenous languages.
Now, do Nigerians give their pets (mostly dogs because cats are presumed to be witches/agents of darkness in Nigeria) tribal names? Do you call a dog ‘Bisi’ or name a cat ‘Ali’? Is it done? Do most Nigerians even name their pets at all? Do Nigerians even keep animals as pets (in the real sense of the word)? Most people keep dogs for security reasons from my experience.
To quell my undying need for an answer, I decided to carry out some research. Let it be known that this research was conducted on Twitter and that the results of said research are by no means conclusive.
Below is the question that was posed:
And here are some replies that I received:
I was presented with a dog named ‘Ngozi’ and a cat named ‘Njideka’. I was also told that ‘Ngozi’ means ‘Blessing’. Well I see how this could work. The dog might be a source of blessing to its owners. But what happens when your aunty Ngozi comes to visit and discovers that your dog is called Ngozi? ‘Is that not madness??’ she is likely to ask, assuming that your aunty Ngozi is like most traditional Nigerians. I also did some research and discovered that ‘Njideka’ means ‘The one I have is greater’. I can’t even begin to imagine how this applies to the cat but it is what it is.
Also, does it mean that when a pet is given a tribal name, it automatically assumes that ethnicity? For example, will Ngozi be considered an Igbo dog, Ali, a Hausa cat and Bode, a Yoruba rat? My brain is about to explode but these are just some questions that plague my senses.
I have concluded that most traditional Nigerians would never give the animals they keep, their sacred tribal names because to them, they are just that, animals.
They usually tend to settle for the unknown; names such as Scooby and Bingo that have always been associated with dogs or English nouns such as ‘spy’, ‘hero’ or 'captain'. And when children name the pets, they usually name them after pets on TV shows.
I’m not sure if it is weird that these are the sorts of things that go through my mind but I just felt that this was a topic that needed to be addressed.
To compensate you for having to encounter my twisted mind, here are some pictures of my dog
PS: I didn’t mean this post to be disrespectful or insulting in any way. I apologise to anyone that might have been offended. Tribal names used here were chosen at random and were by no means selected to incite ethnic rivalry.