A former United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary General and founder of Okali Seminal Ideas Foundation for Africa (OSIFA), Dr Agwu Ukiwe Okali, has proposed a change of the country’s name from “Nigeria” to Naijiria.
Okali said this, yesterday, at the venue of the 2014 National Conference in Abuja, noting that the height of the various embarrassments arising from the name, Nigeria, was the erroneous hoisting of Niger Republic flag in place of Nigeria’s at the opening of the ongoing World Cup in Brazil.
He observed that the name “Nigeria” lacks African content, unlike many other African names. He traced the origin of “Niger” to a Latin word that he said also means “nigger,” saying the colonialists probably drew the nation’s name from there.
Okali added: “We think that the occasion of the centenary and the national conference affords us the opportunity, in fact imposes on us a responsibility to use the occasion to tidy up some of the legacies of our colonial past that are still hunting us,” he said. “One of those is ‘Nigeria,’ as it is written.”
“During the opening ceremony of the ongoing World Cup, there was a very embarrassing incident. This incident was that the flag of Niger was displayed as the Nigerian Flag. Now, many people may wonder why. The reason is that the way those countries’ names were written makes it very easy to confuse and requires a high level of concentration to differentiate.”
Noting that sometimes the nation’s national anthem is not played at international events because of the same confusion, he said that “Nigeria,” with its undertone of “nigger,” has been derogatorily applied to Nigerians in many instances by the white.
“The second problem is the way it is spelt. It should be pronounced as Ni-ge-ria. In any African language, including your own, and in many other languages in Africa, that is the case. So, what happened is that it now becomes associated with Nigger-Area and as you know, the word “nigger” is the most derogatory term you can use on a black person, as far as racism is concerned.
“Our name suggests it and we are saying this is absurd, the greatest black African country is flirting with the worst word that you should be using for a black person.”
While another delegate, Prof Chinedu Nwajiuba, said he was going to make the proposal to the plenary, adding that since Nigerian youths in their music and arts have already keyed into the name, Naija, it becomes imperative to recommend it to the Federal Government.
Posted From iProdigy Group Nigeria(Dabibi Ori-ibim’s Blog).
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