A Nigerian man has said he wouldn’t mind his kids bearing their mother’s surname and choosing her place of origin as theirs.
Chukwuebuka Nnaemeka Chukwuemeka, who identifies as feminist, said this decision isn’t about feminism, even though many people may think it is. He explained that he has always preferred to identify as an indigene of his mother’s hometown, for reasons which he stated in his post. He also added that as a banker, he mentioned his mother’s hometown and not his father’s and it worked well for him.
He said his wife will be free to retain her surname after marriage, and also to give their children her name and even make her hometown theirs. He went on to reveal that he is bearing his grandfather’s name, not his father’s and he doesn’t mind whose surname his children bear or which town they choose to identify with.
Chukwuebuka, an Indigene of Anambra state, is an author and a language editor at Oxford University Press. He lives in Hamburg, Germany.
He wrote on Facebook:
When I told a friend that I wouldn’t mind my kids bearing their mother’s surname and nativity, he thought it was one of my numerous jokes. But I was serious.
As I tried to give him my reasons for having such inclination, he thought it was one of my feminist sermons. But it wasn’t about feminism.
Most of my ideas about fairness and freedom stem from my personal idiosyncracies. I am easily given to the advancement of free-thinking and liberty, one that does not infringe on another man’s rights and peace. Perhaps this is the reason I easily speak up for feminism, homosexuals and irreligious folks.
Yes, my wife would be free to bear her surname, register my kids’ names with her surname and even make her native town that of my kids’. This is not about feminism. (If feminism preaches such cause, then it is by accident that our thoughts align.) Rather, this is about me, who I am, the way I see life—a NO Big deal.
For instance, I have always preferred to identify ?k?z? (corrupted as Awkuzu), my mum’s town, as my native town to whoever that asks. This was not to push a feminist cause, but to avoid unnecessary cynical questions I get from some people when I tell them I am from ?m?eri (popularly corrupted as ?m?leri) because of the town’s history of war and violence with some of her neighbours, especially Ag?leri and ?m??ba Anam.
As a banker, I mentioned ?k?z? instead of ?m?eri as my home town. And it worked for me, until Dad challenged me to rise to the task of clearing to the world the hidden virtues of his townsmen and be the voice to correct those narratives I do not want to be associated with. I agreed with him. And I am happy he was able to understand that I could decide to change my nativity to that of my maternal home based on my personal circumstances.
Culturalists may argue for order. But in an advanced world, these things work perfectly with digitalized administrative documentations. When my kids become adults, they should be able to denounce ?m?eri and identify Ak?kwa or Ihiala or Mbaise or wherever their mother hails from as their native town. The district commissioners will file their registration. And that’s it. In fact, as long as one is an Igbo and could prove it through their birth certificate, this shouldn’t be a big deal in an ideal Igbo nation.
I do not think it is by having my kids bear my name that will make my name live forever. In fact, I don’t intend to change my surname from Chukwuemeka (my grandfather) to Nnaemeka (my father). Yet, who knows Chukwuemeka!
If my kids decide to bear Chukwuebuka as their surname, that’s their business, I won’t stop them. I only hope that by the time they start reading and writing, my book would have been ready, so that they’d read about their father’s ideas, and realise that their individual choice is more important than whatever culture or religion prescribes.
After he shared his post, social media users who could relate to his point of view commented.
“I once wrote a poem. One of the lines says. our kids can have your surname after all it does sound better’. The slay queen later left and I took yaba left too,” Nwankwo Obiorah Everest wrote.
Chukwuemeka Peter Nnaike wrote: “As long as it isn’t an English name, I have no problem with whatever name they choose as their surname.”