How having Yoruba first name turned this lady’s passport application into a nightmare

Posted on July 13 2017 , at 10:19 am
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Story highlights
  • These total strangers accused my mother of brainwashing 'their son' to give his child Yoruba names.

Dunnni Obata runs Dooney’s Kitchen, a Nigerian food blog.

You guys know I am half Igbo right? A friend of mine would read this and say, you always know when to claim your Igbo roots, very convenient.

I am Delta Igbo and my people do NOT like being called Igbo, goodness knows why. My cousins would proudly proclaim that they are not Igbo; my uncles would give you a good side eye if you ever dared call yourself Igbo. ‘We are Delta Igbo you hear?!’ Biko, what is the difference?

I think the need to experiment with food from different parts of Nigeria must be due to my family heritage. My taste buds have developed from lots of places. That heritage is quite conflicting because my first name is Yoruba; middle name, Yoruba; surname you can’t place where it is from- and just assume, Yoruba.

Funny story: to apply for a passport, you need a letter from your state of origin. At the Delta State liaison office in Abuja, I confidently walked up to the desk and submitted the form. The look on the woman’s face across the desk was priceless. ‘Young lady, did you miss your way? Ogun and Ondo State liaison offices are across the road.’ I replied ‘No ma, I am from Delta State.’

She looked at the form, looked at me and said ‘You must be joking.’ She called out her colleagues to come and see this ‘Oladunni’ claiming Delta. Then it became a circus.

It was funny at first, because I get such comments all the time; then they became rude and annoying which made me ask if the Delta State governor issued a cheque for every Deltan and they think I am fraudulently claiming their state for monetary reasons.

Oh dear, wrong move. They were seriously offended and called more people to come and hear this ‘small girl’ insulting them.

Gesticulating and talking at the top of their voices, foaming at the mouth: ‘You are not our daughter… We know our children!’ Such inane comments. I was told to call my mum which I refused initially but gave in eventually. Another wrong move.

These total strangers accused my mother of brainwashing ‘their son’ to give his child Yoruba names. ‘How can her Igbo name be her third name’ and so much more. At that point, I was close to walking out.

Next call, I put Daddy on the phone, and the ‘Chief accuser’ spoke to my dad in Igbo, which he barely speaks. That compounded the matter. I was hearing words like ‘outrageous, abomination, lost generation, send her to the village, it is not too late to learn Igbo, she must marry a Delta man…’ For heavens sake, on top of a stupid letter! I was their entertainment for the day.

My saviour in the form a much older man, came in and must have taken pity on me because he told them to take a good look at me, I look like a Delta-Igbo girl (whatever that means).

Huh?! Where? How? When I am the splitting image of my mother.

Of course, woe betide me to deny his claim. He must have spoken magical words because they suddenly stopped, looked at me as if they had never seen me before and started nodding their heads in agreement. ‘Yes, my eyes, my forehead, my skin, my hairline, I must be Delta Igbo.’ I had to lock my jaw in place, to stop my mouth from opening in amazement.

That was how hours later, this Delta girl with Yoruba names got a confirmation of State of Origin letter issued. Phew!!!!

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