Something Called ‘Big Name’: Personal Notes


About 3 weeks ago, I was just thinking, just musing as I sometimes do when I’m not doing something. It was a thought that just struck me and it was really fascinating so much I just I lingered on and dwelt on it more. What made it particularly fascinating was actually the fact that I was seeing a common thing from a perspective that had’t just occurred to me as yet. And the object of my thought was simple—BIG NAME.

It just occurred to me that when we cite William Shakespeare in English Literature, we naturally, and often times than not, put ‘Shakespeare’, simply, against the citation. You really don’t always find his quote affixed with the full name ‘William Shakespeare,’ much less adding a 1563—1616 to it. It occurred to me that when I cited Shakespeare in the opening page of 2 sections in my new poetry book Softlie, I had also naturally written ‘Shakespeare’ (not a ‘William Shakespeare’) against the quotation. It occurred to me that when I cited some other writers (and less prominent) at the opening pages of other sections, I had however written full names naturally. So I just paused then to ponder on this.

I came to see the fact that the name Shakespeare has so much won renown in English literature over the centuries that you don’t need to describe which Shakespeare you’re talking about. Once you decide not to include William in your mentioning—even if you mean another person, nobody will normally ask before concluding it is William Shakespeare. That is something they call name, man! Big name!

Yes, it struck my mind, there and then, that the name William Shakespeare has swallowed up every Shakespeare for some centuries now—and maybe for some centuries to come, who knows?! Yes, yes… at that point I remembered that I have once read a thing or two about one Olivia Shakespear, a novelist, and who was the Modernist Poet W.B. Yeat’s former lover—and her daughter ‘Dorothy Shakespear’ who became the Modernist Poet Ezra Pound’s wife in 1914. Now, you see, there goes another Shakespear, so to speak, in English Literature. But have you heard of her before? Perchance you have, you will agree that the name William Shakespeare has forever dwarfed the Dorothy Shakespear and Olivia Shakespear in English literature. Shakespeare the playwright and actor has become a worldwide household name. That’s big, big name, bro! It’ll take ages for another Shakespeare to catch up with that!

Then again, there are many Soyinka, in Nigeria (I thought further on)—but the first African Nobel Laureate in Literature Wole Soyinka has swallowed up all other Soyinka’s in Nigeria as at today—I’m sure you’ll agree with me. Mentioning other Soyinka’s in Nigeria, you may have to affix their first name—somehow! But when you simply say ‘Soyinka,’ it is like you are saying the Soyinka! That’s just the fact! That’s something called name, brother! Mention him in your appointment in any literary field in Africa with his name signed below the letter you take along and see how people pave way for you to pass!

Okay now, mention Awolowo anywhere in Nigeria and the person you think of is Obafemi Awolowo! Mention Mandela anywhere in Africa and your mind goes to no other person than Nelson Madiba Mandela! Mention Adeboye in Nigeria and you only think of Enoch Adejare Adeboye! That sure is name! Such names ain’t easy to come by! It takes the genius in someone, takes you going the super-extra mile, takes persistence, and takes God! I’m sure when God gives someone a name—it dwarfs all contemporaries! And it is blessed.

Then, I had a fresh and new perspective to a passage of the Bible I’ve been used to before. It’s Philippians II. 5 – 11—where it says God has given Jesus Christ a really big and powerful name that swallows up every other name! I then remembered that there’s even a football player in playing for Manchester City presently, by the name Jesus—Jesus Navas, in full. Of course, he is a star! His name can get you lots of dollars when you have his connection. Risen up to an international level already. But then, come—if I just mentioned the name ‘Jesus’ behind you, which of the Jesus will you think I called? But that is just by the way. I am a Christian and I have seen the name Jesus the Christ work powerfully on my behalf too many times to be counted. Also I have seen it worked special miracles in my life and that of some other people. In a very nut shell, it has done very super-ordinary things that Navas’s own ‘Jesus’ cannot do! Then again, that is name! Exra-ordinary name!

And finally, having gone through all these in my head, I submitted to myself: Name and niche is something for a writer! Big name is something I love; something I covet. But then, a name endowed me and blessed by God!

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