a picture showing moyo okediji poised for the camera

Say My Name

Say My Name

My middle name is Benjamin.

Says a lot about me, right,

since I’m not from the Middle East.

I wasn’t born Benjamin.

But circumstances beyond my control

turned me to Benjamin. How?

I was born Moyosore—short of a much longer name.

But over the years,

I accumulated a vast number of informal aliases

—a couple of which are not particularly fair to me

And Edumare is punishing the givers of those names:

Yes, born Moyo,

I somehow went from being called Moyo

to being called


It was exciting when at age ten

my parents informed me

One ordinary day without any fuss

that I was baptized in the Methodist Church.

The announcement was quite an exotic experience to me.

Also a curious one:

“So what’s my baptismal name?”


Wow! That sounded, as we now say,

So cool. Sure. That was the hipmost thing in my life.

It happened that I was also filling the applications forms

Of admission to the secondary schools.

When I filled the forms, I wrote my name as

“Benjamen Moyo Okediji”

The Benjamen thing was too wild

to let go wasted without milking it.

After my admission to an elite

Baptist secondary school, the principal looked at me

His eyes probing me as if he was Olodumare

“Are you “Benjamen, or Benjamin?” he asked.

What the duck is He talking about;

Is there something cooler

than Benjamen, and all I need to do

was substitute i for e?

“My name is Benjamin, sir.”

“Good.” He wrote it down in his holy book.

And for the next six years

My name became Benjamin.

Nobody called me Benjamin or Benjamen at home.

I wore the name Benjamin

like a serpent wore a mask

with forked tongues

in Yoruba and English languages:

When I’m home, I’m Moyo.

When at school,

I’m Benjamin.

I was never a huge fan

of the mask called Benjamin.

He was one tough customer

Who got me into a lot of trouble

when all I wanted was a certificate.

Soon as I finished high school

And started undergraduate studies

I returned to Moyo

Who, interrupted for nearly a decade,

By that mask called Benjamen-Benjamin

We are still figuring out

Interested in some of my published works?

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