|By Kerry James Marshall|
My name is Aida Amoako and I need to confess.
My name is actually Aida Odurowaa-Amoako and I've often avoided putting my surname on things for reasons I feel perhaps others with surnames like mine might understand.
It started at secondary school, when they thought Odurowaa was my middle name and not part of a double barrelled surname. At 11 years old, already having been through multiple cringe worthy moments of mispronouciation, I was more than happy to relegate half my name if it meant it would be easier to say.
But I can barely pronounce it myself. I was once on the phone, talking to someone semi-official, when they asked for my surname. It left my mouth in a mangled mess of vowels, my tongue feeling heavy. I jumped when I heard my mother's voice, loud and righteous beside me. "Odurowaa-Amoako!", she shouted, hitting me on the arm. I felt sick with shame and embarrassment and finished the phone call. But afterwards I went to the bathroom and closed the door and practiced in the mirror, like I was rehearsing some hard convoluted Shakespeare monologue and not trying to say my own name.
Whenever I signed up for something new I left the Odurowaa out, convincing myself with the semi-true excuse that I shouldn't have my full name absolutely everywhere on the Internet. But really I felt it would put people off seeing this BAIT AFF NAME for both the well-meaning and the lazy to trip over. I'm including myself in that.
I went to this leadership and networking event as a freelance blogger and was listening to a speech by Dr Sandie Okoro, general counsellor at HSBC. She talked about when she was starting out and people would advise her to change her name to a more English sounding one on her applications in order to get hired. But she refused, saying if they didn't want her name paper, she wasn't prepared to work there.
If someone is put off from reading my blog, from hiring me, from considering my work, because of my long ass vowely Ghanaian surname, then they can eff right off.
I can barely speak Twi but I can understand it. I'm going to learn how to pronounce Odurowaa properly. I'm going to learn how to say "They call me Aida Odurowaa -Amoako" properly.