The Eerie Invention of the Title

In Nigeria, the surname comes first. Check your school ID and confirm. The international standard puts the surname at the rear. That was how I initially opened my Facebook account. By the time I realised the importance of the arrangement, Facebook had changed its policy. But then I preferred the arrangement for its Yorubic lingual rhythm. It sounds unique /do-mi-re-mi-do-mi/. It’s my name, please. I got to school and started meeting people. The name became popular. Then I joined campus journalism in my faculty where surname comes first. For a while, the surname stayed where it should. The problem was the confusion it created.

The proper international arrangement became like a pseudonym in the press publications. Later, I left journalism for student politics. The switch cemented the floating surname. It became the identity I could neither control nor correct. Moreover, my colleagues seemed to like it. Most prefer to call me Ojo Aderemi in full instead of Ojo or ‘Remi. During one of our campaigns, a student began to dance around, promising me to victory simply because he liked the sound of the name. He said it sounded like the name of some great politician. When complimentary comments over the name continued coming, I stopped bothering about rearranging it.

And it would completely spoil the rhythm anyway, I found a solution to it. If you have to write your surname first When writing your name in the Nigerian arrangement put a comma after the surname. As in “Ojo, Aderemi”. It tells the world your surname is the one in front. The second option is to put the entire surname in caps. As in “OJO Aderemi”. The third option is for titles. For example, if you want to introduce yourself with Mr, see to it that you do not use your first name at all when putting your surname first.

As in “Mr Ojo”, “Senator Ojo”, “Dr Ojo” period! It is correct to be addressed as “Mr Aderemi” “President Aderemi” etcetera. Make no mistake, on official documents where salaries are involved (and unless stated otherwise), it must be “Professor Aderemi Ojo” never “Professor Ojo, Aderemi”. Meanwhile, I have always loved my /do-mi-re-mi-do-mi/. It sticks quite easily. Do you see that stickiness? It’s what I need.

Ojo, Aderemi Ibadan, Nigeria. @realojoaderemi [Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram] ojderemi@gmail.com


Ojo, Aderemi is a Historian, teacher, public speaker, writer, politician, and community organiser. He was trained at the University of Ibadan and was President of the Students Union.

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