I had come back home from my boarding school only a few days before this. The habits I had developed in school were still very much with me.
In boarding school, I loved to identify people not only with their names but also with their surnames… Olumide was not simply Olumide. He was Olumide Lawson. Bosun was Bosun Peters. Tolu was Tolu Makinde. Not only did it make it clear to whom I was referring, it made things much easier for me in a way that is quite hard to explain. It’s like a filing system actually. Names were not complete without their surnames. To this day, I love to know everyone’s surnames.
And because I had two unusual first names, I liked to introduce myself with my surname. Throughout Primary School, every other person told me that Aanu was a girl’s name. And Chukwudi? Let’s not even go there. In my part of Nigeria, absolutely nobody bore that name. It always led to long questions. Is your mother Igbo? How come Shuku…?
So, on this fateful day when I was about fifteen years old, and still very fresh with my surname habit, I had reason to knock on my Dad’s door. He liked to have siesta at about four in the evening. For some reason, I needed to break that rest period. So I did the right thing. Knock.
“Adepoju!” was my immediate response.
The laughter from the other side of the door brought me back to reality. I immediately realized how funny my response must have been. Here I was, teenager me, telling Mr Adepoju himself that I was Adepoju, in the Adepoju home. He knew who would be introducing himself like that. I imagine the thoughts that must have run through his mind as I appropriated his name to myself.
But it was not his own name originally. It was his own father’s name, you see. Adepoju.
As the first one of his father’s children to receive western education, he was confronted with that ‘weird’ question that the children of illiterate parents have had to answer all over Africa as they were registered for school for the first time.
“What is your father’s name?”
“Poju. Adepoju” was my father’s reply back in 1947 or thereabouts.
But by 1991, he had created an identity with that name, an identity that acquired a life of its own. A good notoriety, if I may. I remember being asked by my Physics professor in 1994 if my Adepoju was the same Adepoju that taught Physics at Osogbo Grammar School in the early ‘80s. Replying in the affirmative brought unbelievable favour my way. I was immediately offered the very lunch that this revered lecturer had on his table.
Just the name. Adepoju.
It brought things my way, you see. So I learnt to use it as well.
Running an errand for my dad, especially if it was to some place where he was known, I never volunteered my own name. What for? ‘Adepoju’ would do.
The lesson behind all these hit me a few years later as I researched into the Name of Jesus.
When I have the name of Jesus, why would I try to do anything in my own name? Why make life unnecessarily difficult for myself?
His name – JESUS – is known everywhere, unlike my Dad’s, which is actually hard to pronounce for people outside my ethnic group in West Africa.
His name – JESUS – is enduring, everlasting. Unlike my Dad’s, which is only three generations old, as far as we are concerned. Like Joseph’s name became useless when there arose another Pharaoh that did not know Joseph.
His name – JESUS – is feared, you know… in heaven, on earth, and underneath the earth. Feared so much that knees begin to knock themselves together before the owners of the knees realise what their ears have heard. It was David that expressed this so beautifully:
“As soon as they hear of me, they submit; foreign nations cringe before me.” – Psalm 18:44
His name is like an ointment poured forth (Song of Solomon 1:3).
Not only do bad things run at the name of Jesus, He himself promised that good things are bound to come our way when we knock and use His name.
When you knock at the door of greatness, it may ask you “Who’s there?” Don’t bother with your own name. Why would you?
Simply use His name. It’s yours to use. Yours.
Just say you’ve come in the name of Jesus. Those doors MUST OPEN.
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.
Chukwudi Adepoju is @adechuks on twitter.