The American Solution to Long, "Hard-to-Pronounce" African Names

A few months ago, I heard this funny story about how Peter O' Toole ended up "christening" Omar Sharif with a completely different name: Fred.

Over the years, I have watched in horror, as Americans (mostly) have tried to pronounce long Nigerian / African names.  Even when the person with the long name provides a shorter, more jaw-friendly name, just to avoid having his name mis-pronounced so regularly, the result is the same:  both the original name and the nickname end up badly butchered.

Borrowing a page from Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif's story, I have come up with a solution, which I believe will be acceptable to both sides.

For Women:  If you come across a long, female hard-to-pronounce African name (e.g. Iteoluwakiishi), don't sweat it.  Just call her "Sue."  It's just one syllable and your jaws won't over exert themselves.

For Men:  Same scenario as above.  Just call him "Bob."

And there we have it.  Problem solved!

So, what long, hard-to-pronounce African names have you come across and how did you deal with pronunciation issues? Kindly share your experiences!

P.S. "Iteoluwakiishi" is a unisex Yoruba name, which when loosely translated, means "The throne of God abides forever." [Source]

Nigerian Name shaaa, especially yoruba and igbo ones... even Jamb form no fit contain many of them


Is it just me or does anyone else think we over-hype, misjudge or get angry needlessly over how our names are being mispronounced? Especially when it is by people who don't speak the language. I understand making noise when the person mispronouncing your name speaks your language or is not trying or worst still ascribes you a name not on your birth certificate without your permission. There is reason why I can easily pronounce many first names like David, Ashley and Honey Boo Boo (if I may), and can't wrap my tongue around many first names from Mongolia or last names that are of Irish, Germany, Chinese descents . I see people get angry when someone who is not your native language butcher their names on first, second or third try and then scream them out as prejudice or stupid. I'm like slow your roll and try pronouncing Baumgartner.

lmao I was wondering what Sue had to do with anything but o well. My full name is "Ogechukwu", I use the short form Oge. I tell them, it's pronounced o-gay as in Oh I'm gay (which I'm not by the way). But still these people feel compelled to call me Oga and Ogi. Seriously? I'm pretty certain if I told them my name was Oga they'd probably call me Oge then

I have a friend named 'Oluwaseunara'. I looked for trouble one day and wrote the name on a paper and added my own 'jara'to it. In the end we had 'Oluwaseunarafunminigbagogbo'. LOL! Don't bother pronouncing.

Michael: The pronouncement wasn't too bad, but the background story was entertaining. You didn't tell us what your friend did in response. And what will be his short name? Gbogbo or Ara? Of course I am ignoring the more common forms like Seun, etc.

9jaFoodie: Ha! I need you to take that syllable by syllable and I might also need a translation :D


I would love to hear your thoughts. Please Share.

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