Vera Ezimora: I’m not raising a Yoruba child

by Vera Ezimora

Among my Nigerian people, in the issues concerning gender and tribe, there is covert sexism and tribalism. Even women are sexist against other women and against themselves. Yes, I’m Igbo. Yes, my husband is Yoruba. But now that we have a child together, Nigerians are telling me that my daughter is Yoruba. No, sir. No, ma. My child isn’t Yoruba. She is an Igbo-Yoruba girl.


Long before I ever met Igwe and before I knew that my husband would be Yoruba, I had made the decision that my children’s first names would be Igbo. I figured that if my husband was Igbo, he probably wouldn’t mind, and if my husband was not Igbo, then he should not mind since the baby would have his last name anyway. I distinctly remember Funmie telling me that I would never, ever find a Yoruba man who would agree to give his child/ren first Igbo names. This is one of the many times I’m glad I didn’t listen to Funmie. Other times were when she recommended some Nigerian movies and said they were great. Glad I didn’t listen.

I’m not trying to take anything away from fathers, but the reality is that mothers do the most. Until men can help women to at least carry the pregnancy – even if for a minute – I will continue to say that mothers do the most. But after a woman carries and delivers the baby, she is now told that she’s the mere mother and that the child actually belongs to her father.

If I had a dollar for every time that people have said or implied that my child is Yoruba and that the Igbo in her is insignificant, I could buy myself that new gadget I’ve been eyeing. “Ah. No oh! This one is Omo Yoruba!” they laugh. Who is laughing with them? And when I introduce my daughter, Ada Verastic by her Igbo name, people are confused. “But I thought her father is Yoruba?”

Yes, he is. But her mother is Igbo.

Hmm! Ah. Okay oh.  Na wa o.

People carry on as if I’m just her surrogate mother, as if my child does not have my blood, and as if I simply did Igwe a favor by helping him to carry his child (and now I’m here to also simply take care of the child for him). Long before I ever knew of the word feminism, I was already unconsciously uncomfortable with the [Nigerian] female narrative. I was – and still am – uncomfortable with being relegated to the back, simply for being female.

If I ever were to find myself with a group of astronauts discussing life as astronauts, I wouldn’t have anything meaningful to contribute to their conversation because I am no astronaut, but for the issues that concern me and/or my daughter, yes, I have a lot to say. I’m not raising a Yoruba girl. My daughter will be introduced to the good parts of both cultures. End of discussion.

And while we’re on the subject of not raising a Yoruba daughter, I am also not a Yoruba wife. But that’s a story for another day.

Comments (2)

  1. Comment: Stop nagging, Sis. It is an order. “Woman, your husband is your head”. If you’ve known you wanted it like this, you should have married an Igbo. We wouldn’t have been listening to this story. We all are one. Note that.

  2. she’s an accidental Yoruba wife! Simple and she never plan to marry the man!!!

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