Why I Chose to Keep My Father’s Surname ~ Chimamanda Adichie

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Chimamanda Adichie

I didn’t change my surname to my husband’s surname because I love my surname, and all my documents bear my father’s surname. I don’t have the strength to run around to change it.

People often tell me that I am abusing Igbo culture by still bearing my father’s surname. I laugh when I hear people say this. But the fact is that those women who bear their husband’s surname are the ones abusing Igbo culture. In pre-colonial Igbo culture, women didn’t bear their husband’s surname; they bore their father’s surname. Everything changed when the British colonized us. We then abandoned our own culture and followed British culture.

Chimamanda Adichie

In pre-colonial Igbo society, if a married woman died, her corpse would be returned to her father’s home to be buried there. In pre-colonial Igbo culture, women belonged to their father’s place; their husbands just borrowed them for both to live together and have children.

I am always worried about why Igbo people are ashamed to speak their language. In most Igbo families in Nigeria, parents communicate in Igbo, but immediately when they talk to their children, they switch to English.

I am always thinking about how to make our people understand the importance of our culture and language. That’s why I don’t normally wear foreign clothes. Many international clothing brands have approached me to be their ambassador by wearing their clothes, but I choose our traditional style of dressing to showcase who we are to the world. Many of our students now don’t study Igbo in school. During my time in secondary school, I studied Igbo and took it in my WAEC examination, achieving an A1.

Chimamanda Adichie

I have two children, and I am teaching them the things we did as children while growing up, like “Ikpọ ọga” and many other traditional activities. These are the things that will help them understand who they are. They speak and understand Igbo.

It is time for all of us to come together to restore our language.