That’s not my name

Video, 12 mins 17 secs

That's not my name (2015) explores themes of identity and belonging using the interviewees' responses and musings over their names as an entry point. The four subjects of Nigerian heritage frame the video research project by explaining the meaning of their names in English before further exploring the complex relationships with themselves and wider society that they have navigated rooted in the experience of having a ‘foreign’ name. Within this, the four reflect on how it feels to constantly have to correct the pronunciation of their name and the assumptions people make prior to engaging in conversation. This topic of discussion also opens a space to hold conversations about the nuances of being Nigerian and the liminality experienced by many children of the diaspora who are constantly having to (re)construct their identities.

It is no secret that Nigeria has had a difficult past and to some extent endures a difficult present. Most notably, after Nigeria’s independence from British rule on 1 October 1960 the country was subject to military rule and marred by a string of coups and the Nigerian Civil War also referred to as the Biafran War which took place between 1967-70. Ethnic divisions were seen and continued through the creation of legislation to divide Nigeria into three regions: North, West and East enacted through the 1946 Richards Constitution. Although the country has made strides to heal from these troubling experiences, many of these tensions can still be felt as an undercurrent in modern Nigeria and played out through the development of relationships between young Nigerians. The participants' origins are rooted in various parts of the country; however, similarities can be seen through the importance they attach to their name and collective experience of growing up Nigerian in London.

 

This research project is one of a few within the overarching project title At Home With the Diaspora, which Peju started in 2015 to highlight the experiences of children within the African diaspora.

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