From Ekpedeme to Oljas, a scientific look at how the complexity of a given name can shape youngsters' view of themselves and their world.
“My name strikes fear in the hearts of many when they first see it.”
So says Ekpedeme Bassey, who was born in the U.S. to Nigerian parents and given a traditional Nigerian name. “I don’t have an earliest memory of my name being mispronounced. My name was always mispronounced.”
Since she was young, Ekpedeme (pronounced Ek-peh-deh-may) sometimes mysteriously becomes ‘Experdeem’ or even ‘Expedermis.’ More often, people are just plain stumped. While Bassey retains a sense of humor about it, she admits her lightheartedness can give way to frustration.
“I always longed for an easier name, like Lisa,” says Bassey, who spent her school years in predominantly Caucasian environments in New York City and Atlanta. Bassey briefly tried going by her middle name, ‘Mfon,’ which she figured would be easier. When that evolved into “Muffin” or even “Blackberry Muffin,” for the color of her skin, she retired it.
Even her own mother struggled to pronounce “Ekpedeme,” as she came …
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