Celebrate Your Name Week comes up every first week in March (1st- 7th) and to celebrate that, I got people to write about names and their meaning from some of the major tribes in Nigeria. Here is a compilation of some Efik – Ibibio names, their meanings.
I can guess two things that come to your mind when you hear about the people of Akwa Ibom or Cross River State (or AkwaCross); but before we address that, let me talk about the conception that most have of these two states. The Capital of Akwa Ibom State is Uyo, not Calabar. Calabar is the Capital of Cross River State. Although these two states are sister-states, please let’s learn to differentiate one from the other.
That is how you people call a full Akwa Ibom man with balls like me, “Omo Calabar” in this Lagos, and I just have to answer.
Back to my point…
The first thing that pops up in people’s head whenever they hear about Akwa Ibomites or Cross Riverians is their sexual prowess. I speak the truth. I lie not! Comedians would say that it’s the energy we get from dog meat. Even though I may not argue (not because it’s irrefutable), I keep wondering when the competition was held—that we emerged the winner. We are strong people though. But sexually? That’s your opinion!
The second thing that pops up in people’s head about us is the sound of our name. I’ve had people make good laugh out of it. Once anyone knows that I’m from Akwa Ibom State, they don’t care to ask for my name, they just conclude, “Okon’s brother”.
All thanks to Okon Lagos (Imeh Bishop Umoh).
You must have heard the sound of “bong-this’ and ‘bong-that’ as part of our names. Yes, that’s for names that are affiliated with God, just like we have “Chi…” for the Igbos, and “Oluwa…” for the Yorubas. I will be sharing a few Cross River/Akwa Ibom names and their meanings here; in case you want to borrow one for your child or your friend has a name you don’t understand.
Akpan means, “First Son.” People bear this as their names too. I’m sure that you have seen a few “Akpans” in your life.
Aniefiok means, “Who-knows?” But it’s the short form for “Aniefiok mkpong” meaning, “Who knows tomorrow?” It presents God as the omniscience—the one who knows everything and has the future in his hands.
Aniekeme means, “Who can?” The concept is to point people to the fact that only God can do anything, and everything.
Anietie is the short form for “Anietie-nte-Abasi” which means “Who is like God?”
Edara means, “rejoice.”
Edikan means, “Victory.”
Ekanem – this is just a name. I don’t know the meaning, but it has its root in the Efik culture.
Ekemini means, “Appointed time.”
Ekpo means, “Ghost” or “Masquarade.” However, I don’t know if there’s another meaning to it that pertains to just names.
Eno-Obong means “God’s gift” or “a gift from God.”
Etiowo – Although not a very common name, “Etiwowo” means “Good Person”.
Idara means “Joy.”
Ifiok means “Wisdom.”
Ima-Obong means, “God’s Love.” Ima is Love. So, this is a way of appreciating God’s love.
Imo OR Imoh means, “Wealthy” or “Wealth/Rich.”
Inemesit means, “Happiness.”
Itoro means, “Praise.” An extended version, “Itoro-Obong” or “Itoro-Abasi” meaning, “God’s praise.”
Kufre means, “Don’t forget.” It’s like a shorter way of saying, “Kufre-Abasi” which means, “Do not forget God.” Kufre could also be attached to events of life or a present condition.
Mfon-Obong means, “God’s grace”.
Mkpo-Uto means, “Precious”.
Ndifreke-Abasi means, “I will never forget God.” But people also bear “Ndifreke” in short, which means, “I will never forget” or “unforgettable” either to honour God or in memory of an event or something that they will never forget.
Nsemeke means, “I will not lament.”
Okon? To be frank, I don’t know the meaning of this name. Maybe it’s just a name. You know those kind of native words that you try to trace their meanings but you can’t fine? Okon is one of them. But somewhere in Ibibio, “Okon” although pronounced differently means, “Night.” Maybe that’s while the “Okons” I know are dark in complexion. They were either born at night, or their parents did it at night.
Oto-bong, meaning, “From God.” This means that the parents of the child acknowledge God as the giver of every good thing, including children. Somewhere in the Bible says, “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord.”
Ubok-Obong/Ubok Ababsi means, “God’s hand.”
Ubong means “Glory.”
Udo means, “Second Son.” An extended version, “Udo-Obong” does not have a literally meaning. I only think that it’s a way to remind them that they are God’s kind of second son because these people are always stubborn, if you’ve noticed. It was the second son (the prodigal son) that asked his father to give him his share of the property in the Bible story and it was Jacob (the second son) that the Bible called a trickster for all that he did. Some spellings come with “h” – that’s “Udoh” and are pronounce with respect to the consonant, “H”
Uduak means, “Will” and “Uduak-Obong” means “God’s will”.
Uforo means Progress.
Ukeme means, “Might.” An extended version of the name, “Ukeme-Obong” or “Ukeme-Abasi” means, “God’s might.”
Uko means, “Courage.” I know one Uko that is the opposite of his name. He will never shout for joy in the church, but he does that for cockroaches at home whenever he sees one.
Unwana means, “Light.” Of course, we are the light of the world.
Unyime – is a common name too, but it has no meaning literally. Maybe, it’s just a name. But we often joke that people who bear “Unyime” are selfish/stingy people because “unyim” means “selfish.”
Utit-ofon means, “the end is good.” But its deeper meaning is that it is always good to rejoice at the end. It is also a shorter way of saying, “Uti-ofon-Idara” which means, “the end is worth rejoicing.” This means that whatever you do in life, or whatever you face in life, the end justifies the means, and you should only rejoice when you’ve gotten the end, or have overcome all.
Uwen means, “Life”.
Uyai means, “Beauty.”
Uyo-Obong means, “The voice of God.”
Now, you can see that names are not just given, but are representation or reminders to a historic or present event.
What’s your name?
What’s the meaning?
If you find these out, it could point you to something about yourself, which you never knew.
This feature was authored by Ndifreke George. He is a Nigerian writer by day, noon & night. When he is not writing, he’s surely thinking of something very funny. Following him on twitter @NdifrekeGeorge1
George, you forgot to write about the amazzzzzzzing dishes you people have.