As anyone reading this may already know, my name is Kenechukwu. It’s an Igbo name from Nigeria which means “Thanks be to God” as a shortening of the phrase “ekene dili Chukwu.” But even with this truly amazing meaning, I’ve never really liked my name. It was always so difficult for people to pronounce so I have always chosen to simplify.
In order to avoid using Kenechukwu, I hoarded a collection of nicknames. A few gems include: KC, Kaz, Kennie/Keni, Kiwi, Kasia, Chuks. I’ll spare you the more cringe-worthy ones.
In December, I was in the process of getting ready to travel to Jordan. I was making my blog, I was sending my resume out, and I was applying for my University of Jordan student ID. The one question on all of these, naturally, was “What is your name?”
I had to sit on that question for a while.
I’ve never felt that what people referred to me as defined my identity or who I was, because I knew that at the end of the day I was always Kenechukwu. But I did have that nagging feeling that I should be Kenechukwu. It just felt more real.
I figured that I was coming to a country where I knew no one and no one knew me: it the perfect chance to reinvent myself and decide what I wanted to be called. So instead of digging into my arsenal of cute/terrible nicknames for myself, I “settled” on Kenechukwu.
I started to realise how cool my name was when I thought about how unique it is in the States. It hit me even more as I began to hear it on people’s tongues for the first time. People were very casually calling me Kenechukwu with no mispronunciations or hesitations or stutters. We were all getting used to it.
This is just one tiny step towards me becoming the Kenechukwu my mother named me to be.