It is a simple pleasure hearing your name called out in a crowd.
Moving through my busy office by 4pm, my mind is already on dinner. Oblivious to the sound of people and the continuous rolling of the photocopier, I am thinking about the already set table. Suddenly I hear my name. My brain does a spin. I stop, and recognise my boss’s voice. Suddenly I am not just drifting through a crowd, another anonymous face out of the loads of people here. I am recognized, I have a name.
I imagine Biblical Zacchaeus feeling nameless. A nearly anonymous man. His name was mentioned just once in the New Testament of the Bible. Reading about him, he was vertically challenged. More profoundly he was a crook, a “leg man” for the Roman IRS. If he lived in 21st century Nigeria he’ll probably dress like our very own high chief Alao Akala – dangling chains, blinging rings and probably a little more swagger of piercings and tattoos. But through the roar of the crowd he suddenly heard his name. Am guessing he fell off the tree in astonishment when he realised it was Jesus that called him. He wasn’t anonymous anymore, he had a name. At that moment, he was not a crook or a rascal. He plainly was Zacchaeus.
Many times we are trapped in a box of what people have labelled us, either good or bad. Proud, nice, friendly, selfish and bla bla bla. Many of those who are regarded as ne’er do well’s get comfortable with the name. In their minds, they can’t amount to anything anyway. And those who are regarded as geniuses continually wear their nerdy glasses and assume that no one can be like them. We are all generally caged in what the society has termed us we forget the originality of our name (i.e. our person and who we truly are). As a matter of fact, the moment we try to step out of the good or bad cage, people for some strange reason get uptight. Meaning that you are not allowed to be anything but what you are already tagged. We are first individuals with abilities to then decide what it is we want to make of our lives. It’s not about what people call you. It’s about what you choose to be after they have given you a name. We are stuck in being called chief, engineer, doctor, pastor, mummy or daddy. Besides being a chief in Ilishan village, do you not have a life? You are first your own person. To become that chief or engineer will then be by the reason or cause of an external or internal force. What people want to identify us as isn’t truly what we are.
In the last 18 years of my life, I have become used to being identified by a long, annoying string of numbers and letters. To my university I am known by my matriculation number. And in the many years of its existence I remain the only one with that number. By dialling another 10-digit sequence (including the prefix 234) anybody in the world can talk to me directly. My bank computer recognizes me by a 4 digit code I can use to withdraw at any time and anywhere in the world. There is that of my license plate registration and another that BlackBerry users know me as. I am not Tope Shittu but a PIN.
Of course the reason for the numeric codes are simple: They enable you single out a certain Tope Shittu from all the millions of glasses wearing Tope’s sharing the planet. This is really important say if you want to deliver a Range Rover Sport on her birthday or call her to have lunch.
Nevertheless, all of these don’t define my person. My matriculation number says nothing about my person besides that it’s written in front of my name. I am identified by it but within the confines of my university. I rather like it when I hear my name being called out as Television personality of the year. Or winner of the Noble prize for literature. My being recognized says to me that my individuality is identified, noticed and respected. I am more than the cage I tell you.
I am happy that God says He has my name engraved in his palm. I am overwhelmed by one of those stand-up-and-do-the-windek-dance feelings.
It reminds me that I’m not just an insignificant blip or 10 digit code in some dusty memory bank of the world. My NAME is written, as a matter of fact inscribed in the greatest palm ever. Jesus will be waiting for me by the gates, arms open wide with my NAME on His lips.
He won’t formulate a code for me. He will welcome me as a special individual. He will say welcome Temitope, and all other things that constitute Temitope will be secondary.
Temitope Shittu-Alamu, is a writer, an eclectic public speaker and master of ceremonies with a degree in History and International Relations. Passionate about the media and of a strong belief that “it is my platform to building the Nigeria of my dreams”. She hosts an annual Christmas show on television. She loves God. She loves people too.
Did she mention that she love garri? Wow, it keeps her going. She blogs at http://eclectictope.wordpress.com/
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.