A man asked me if I was Nigerian, he could tell by my name
What’s in a name?
Warsan Shire said give your daughters difficult names, ones that command the full tongue
I’ve allowed my name to be disrespected since I was young
I left Chisom to become Chi, made it easier for the American eye to see
I accepted a shortened me, acknowledging my name’s difficulty
You can’t say Chisom but I can say Emily, I can say Cassity
You don’t know what’s in my name
Your culture and mine are not the same
Chisom, meaning accompanied by God
Olivia, meaning give her an American name so it doesn’t sound so odd Nwadinobi, meaning child of my heart, child of my home
The power in my name can stand alone
My pronunciation is not a suggestion, not a question
It’s an expression
My name is a benediction, a testimony, a phrase you pronounce complexly
I lose trust in a tongue that refuses to pronounce my name correctly
Every time you say my name wrong my ears bleed
You’re so westernized that it’s my name you can’t read?
You don’t know what’s in my name
Don’t shorten it, it’s not yours to tame
Every time you shorten Chisom, you neutralize its meaning, the value of my being
The origin of my name starts fleeing
You’re neutralizing the meaning of my heritage, my name is meant to be cherished
My name commands the full tongue, the breath of a whole lung
So, I ask again, what’s in a name?
If not my entire identity and relation to my ancestors who named me
I proclaim with confidence, my name is Chisom Olivia Nwadinobi
Elongate my name in its entirety, because it was never meant to be pronounced tiredly