Qualified Entry: Non-Fiction Category
By: Ovie Ojeni
Sadness filled my heart coming home from school. I ran to my room, dropped my bag, and slammed my hand against the desk. I could not understand why my classmates mocked my name that I thought had uniqueness. Contemplating the laughter and taunts of my classmates, I developed a strong hatred toward my name. My parents came up to my room and asked me how my day went. I told my parents how my classmates teased my name. “ Sweetie, don’t worry about what other kids say; you have a special name,” my mom said. She informed me that my name came from my dad’s brother, Ovie, who lived in Nigeria. She explained to me that people viewed Ovie as a legendary and brave hero in the tribe of Basakomo.
“But why name me after that hero?” I asked, “I don’t even have the confidence to stand up for myself when my classmates torment me. Mom, please, you and dad need to change my name,” I said. My parents glanced towards each other and I could tell that they hid something secret from me. My dad looked away from my mom and said, “Son, my brother’s spirit lives and kindles inside you.” Baffled by my dad’s comment, I became interested in the story he had to tell.
My dad’s story began in his Basakomo village. He told me that Ovie, his brother, battled and defeated the tribes’ greatest enemy, the poisonous rattlesnake. The tribe members celebrated Ovie’s victory. My dad futher explained that after the battle, Ovie felt sick. The tribe members brought him to the tribes’ healer. The healer declared that Ovie suffered from the snake’s poisoning. My father conveyed that the healer could not save Ovie, but instead the healer could save his soul. My dad said that he volunteered that the healer should infused his brother’s soul within him, but the healer rejected the offer. The healer proclaimed that Ovie’s soul must be infused within a baby’s soul. My dad expressed that he loved his brother so much that he offered me as the baby. After the healer finished the process, he proclaimed that the baby should not change his name because if the baby does, then Ovie’s spirit will die.
After my dad’s story, my name became precious to me. Not only did I see my name as heroic, but I also I felt important and had a duty to keep my name for the sake of my uncle’s soul. Pride filled my mind when I went to school the next day. Insults from my classmates became meaningless to me and for the first time I walked with a sense of inner happiness at school.