"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Friday, August 10, 2007

What on earth is wrong with my given name ?

Hello everyone, I'm Ifeanyi, the main character in the soon-to-be-published picture book that's been mentioned, here, a few times. I'm being sneaky and surely, my authorly mother - that's Katia, the owner of this blog - will not be happy when she finds this post. She will go all stern and reasonable on me and lecture me about everyone at the publishing house doing their very best to make sure the book reaches the widest audience possible and doesn't turn anyone off for some silly reason. And maybe she's right. Still, my feeling is that the situation is serious enough to warrant a coup d'eclat.

What situation? Well, I hear that they are changing my name. Can you believe it ? I know that I'm a fictional character, but that doesn't mean I don't have feelings. The general opinion seems to be that my given name, the name that my authorly mother chose for me, is too difficult to pronounce and therefore unacceptable. What is so difficult about Ifeanyi, I ask? Ee-feh-ahh-nyi. See? Easy. Well, some people think it is impossible.

Imagine. Mother, who's supposed to be on holidays, and instead, has been busily painting walls and ceilings, got an email from the publishing house telling her that the decision had been made to change my name. She was given two options ; both options unacceptable in her opinion, and mine. She spent the day angry and upset, and was still feeling that way when she went to bed, and of course, she couldn't sleep. So she got up and spent the night trying to find me a new name that she liked, a new name which would be deemed acceptable... hear easy to pronounce. Jack, Jill, Tom, Jo, Dan, Bob, Bill, Tim... That kind. She found a new one. It seems that I now go by the name of Amadi.

Amadi means "free born" in my native language. I wonder if she's making some kind of a statement, here. As far as given names go, I'd say Amadi is just fine. And definitely Igbo. It does sound like home and when I say it, I can almost hear my ancestors' voices travelling on the wings of the Harmattan as it blows its dusty way from the desert. Still, it's going to take some getting used to. It's been a few years since I came out of my authorly mother's mind. I'm used to my given name. I LIKE it. It's a beautiful name ! It means : with God, nothing is impossible.

Mother - the authorly one, because I now have another mother, an artist busy painting me - has been telling herself that it was maybe an omen that she chose it for me in the first place : it will now help us prove that indeed, nothing is impossible, even getting used to a different name. Amadi is OK, really. She does come up with nice names.

I'm going to do just like her and repeat, again and again : I have two beautiful names. The first one is a name that only a handful of people know and use, people like my authorly mother, her close friends, and myself: Ifeanyi. And the second one is the name that will be used by all, the name that will come out in print in a book that will tell my very own story: Amadi. And later, when people know and like me as Amadi, maybe I can tell them that I have another name, my first given name, Ifeanyi, and maybe they'll like it and not think it's so impossible. Because nowhere in the world should there be such a thing as an impossible name. On the contrary. People all over should be curious and open to hearing new sounds, to learning new words and names. Nowhere should anyone be afraid to leave their comfort zone and try new things, to let their tongue taste new sounds, see how they roll off of it. Nowhere should anyone worry about sounding funny, about struggling with different combinations of letters and syllables.

My authorly mother is also using another trick to help her deal with this name issue. In her husband's country, Haiti, newborns are often given several names in order to honor family members. In the end, the name that everyone uses is often the very last one, and not at all the first one. And so it will be for me. Only, the giving of my second name kind of got delayed.

Signed : Ifeanyi Amadi


Rilla said...

Hey Ifeanyi...I've only known you for a year...but I think people with more than one name are lucky. I have two too, and I hate my first name so much I never use it...so you see...everyone has issues with their name...doesn't change who we are now does it...and you lucky Igbo...you got two beautiful ones...'free born'...beautiful...what's in a name...EVERYTHING...

Katia Novet Saint-Lot said...

Mm, and now, I want to know what that first name is, of course... If you tell me, I'll tell you what my second name is, which I also absolutely hate :) Or mayve I'll go and ask your mom :)

Uma Krishnaswami said...

Katia this is funny and whimsical and a commentary on both publishing and life.

Katia said...

Thank you, Uma. I see that Amadi already wrote his comment on your blog. Quite the independent and opinionated chap, isn't he ? But then, he always was :)

htomasello said...

Katia, I always liked "Ifeanyi." And as a mother I know how important name selection is -- how agonizing. I remember when you deliberated over little Malaika's name. I know birth moms who've ben told NOT to name the little one growing inside... names mean attachment. But Amadi is also lovely. He can be both. Ifeanyi to you -- the birth mom -- and Amadi to the rest of us, the adoptive parents...

Anonymous said...

Why would u hide such a beautiful biblical name. With God..ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. IfeanyiChukwu.....it is my name too and I will name my child it too. I love it and wouldn't want to b called anything else. Like u, peole have always stumble on the prenounciation....but that is no reason to change your name. I am a male but the name also suits women. Thats the power of it....it knows no boundries

Ifeanyi said...

Hello there :)
I am also REAL life Ifeanyi--IfeanyiChukwu and also a writer. It's a bit irritating to see that someone in the publishing world thinks my name is unacceptable when really they're just pushing their ignorance on everyone else.

Still, despite the world of morons in the publishing industry and a few teachers I've encountered, I must say that most people love and are intrigued by my name :)

I LOVE my name and the meaning because it gives me strength and hope while challenging me to live up to making the impossible possible.

For me, I will make my name a tradition in the family I create, whether or not the world is ready to fully accept it and its meaning.

Thanks for this post...and even though there are always going to be a few dolts who prefer caveman style monosyllabic names, I do hope you can do what you feel is best for the character you envisioned.

Take care!

Ifeanyi [Who *Couldn't* be a Rose by Any Other Name]

Katia said...

Thank you, Ifeanyi, for sharing your experience. I now go by the official name of Ifeanyi Amadi, and those who prefer Amadi can suit themselves, but those who know me really, from before, continue to call me Ifeanyi and I'm very proud of my name. :)
Best wishes
Ifeanyi Amadi

Ifeanyi the Defiant Rose said...

Hey Katia,
It's Ifeanyi the defiant "rose" again *lol*
I thought I'd check back on you and I'm glad to see the official name. Sweet! :)

Do keep me posted! I hope you can drop me a line at: www.theindigocircle.com

Take care!