Say My Name
My middle name is Benjamin.
Says a lot about me, right,
since I’m not from the Middle East.
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 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?