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Chukwuemeka: an Igbo Name

Chukwuemeka, commonly shortened as “Emeka” is a name usually borne by males of Igbo descent, the Igbo are a people mostly found in Southeastern geo-political zone of Nigeria but a minor percent of these people can also be found in South-southern part of the country particularly in Delta and Rivers State, however, the Igbo as presently concentrated in the South-southern part of the country particularly in Delta State have over the centuries been socially and politically influenced by their Edo neighbours who through inter-relationship and military prowess imposed certain social norms and traditions on the Igbo.

 It is for this reason that the Igbo of South-south have imbibed several cultures quite distant from those of their kits and kin from the South-east. Certain of these can be found in the pronunciations and usage of words of the people. The Anioma people of the South-south are highly cultural people whose co-existence has given birth to distinction of traditional ways of life.  It is as a result of this that the people can relate with one another, it is a fact that an Ika man does not need an interpreter to trade at Ashia-Eke or Ogbogonogo markets in Ibusa and Asaba respectively.

Names are also shared by the Igbo of South-south; the commonest of these names are Emeka for the male and Ngozi for females. Emeka is the subject of this article. Chukwuemeka is a generally borne by the Igbo, “Chukwu” is God and “Meka” is “Done well” Chukwuemeka therefore means “God has done well” The Anioma could fully pronounce it as “Chukwuemekalimife, the name Chukwuemeka may be known among the Anioma people as “Olisemeka” (Olisemekalimife) or in the typical dialect of the people as “Olisemilimumkeh.” “Ose” stands for God among the Anioma people and is commonly used in the traditional libations, veneration and worship of God, the way “Chukwunmgbegbe” would mean “Almighty God among the Anioma people” “Osebuwa” in generality thus implies God, the creator, which is what “Chineke” (God the creator) stands for among the Igbo of Southeast.

This name is usually given to infants by parents who may have found it difficult to bear children initially, lost one or more of their children, thought barren, bear children at the time of crisis or sorrow, or generally found a child during or after unfavourable circumstances, and believes that a wonder has occurred. It is in appreciation of this that a child is named Chukwuemeka by the Igbo people of Nigeria. Anyone will therefore agree with me that Chukwuemeka is a beautiful and meaningful name befitting to the bearers.

Remarkably, the name gained prominence during and immediately after the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) when many children were born, and parents counted themselves lucky for possessing the blessings of God, I assume that many of our women might have avoided becoming pregnant during the war because of the life-threatening inconveniencies that might accompany it. This was only one of the several psychological traumas that the Igbo had to face during and immediately after the war. No one was sure what could happen to mothers and babies, the better option therefore became to forbid pregnancies, a development that greatly reduced the population of the Igbo.

However, every Emeka is a dignifying name and not a sorry-name because at least, children happily born are made to festively bear the name, a name that most people who have distinguished themselves in different endeavours of life bear today in our society.

Emeka is a name you can find today in every part of Nigeria because it is a name that draws inspiration and greatly appreciates God in his infinite mercies, so count yourself lucky if today you bear Emeka. Chuwuemeka (God has done well) What if your name is Bush, we say Bush-emeka (Bush has done well)

The background of the name “Emeka” is given a cultural explaination by this article; you will greatly appreciate it if you bear the name or are greatly interested by Igbo and Anioma culture.

By Emeka Esogbue 


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