I recently visited a friend at his office, only to serendipitously bump into an AMOSA who was my friend’s colleague. This chance encounter drum home the trite remark that “it’s a small world” we live in. We exchanged pleasantries and carried on with a hearty chitchat. During our chat I realized that I did not remember his name. And so I did what I knew how to do best: I feigned knowledge of his name, while trying hard to recollect, yet engaging him with a phony smile. Halfway through the conversation, I mustered the courage to confess my ignorance. He just smiled knowingly and told me his name. I sheepishly exclaimed “Ah yes!” as though I was at the edge of recollection. Thankfully, this little gaffe did not dampen our chitchat till I took my leave.
|Picture |Courtesy Yujin Evans|
On my way back home, I tried to figure out why I generally found it a bit more difficult to recollect the names of my mates from Senior High School as compared to those from my Junior High School. The most obvious reason was that, I spent much longer time with my mates from JHS than I did my SHS mates since most of them were the same people I attended primary school with. Thus typically, I tend to remember and mention their names in full whenever I bump into any of them. Secondly, there were fewer of us in JHS than in SHS since we tended to have smaller class sizes. In JHS, the general population of the school was not very large so it was not a very difficult task getting to know almost everybody in the school. The third reason which I also thought it most fascinating was the prevalent usage of nicknames in SHS which incident was almost non-existent in JHS.
Sometimes referred to as ‘guy-name’ or ‘nicki’, the use of nicknames in SHS was commonplace and oftentimes preferable even to one’s proper name and they came in great assortments ranging from such cool ones as Shaker, Phastbone, DKNY, Khemistry, Dada Bee, Commotion, Paul Saul among others to very bizarre ones like Oshɛwoho, Bordordor, Digestive, Anyaa Popo, Odompo, Teefoi, Kontomire, Bazaywa etc and to the downright obscene like Twɛdash.
Some of these nicknames, as ridiculous as they were, often reflected certain aspects of the bearer’s quirky mannerisms or physique. Examples included names like Obaa Yaa, Nana Borrow, Onyintus, Azaa Bobby,Shro, One Muscle, Lil Chicken, Skelebo, Nana Nyankopong among others. Some too were infamous for their notoriety and cruelty. Those that readily come to mind are Pinky, Okonkwo, Wadada, Shanton and Nana King (whose nickname later metamorphosed into Serebour). There were also those people whose proper names were often mistaken to be their nicknames. Classic examples were Batsa and Kaiser.
The teachers were not exempted from this phenomenon. Apart from the obvious motive to ridicule, giving teachers these nicknames had the added advantage of affording students the leeway to jeer at teachers to their hearing, while they remained oblivious to the mockery directed at them. Some of the popular nicknames were Kriss Kross, Alonzy, Tampico, Abeezi, Prokayo, Barbie, Mɛdem, Iron, Aggrey Goat, Aggrey Bouncer, Auntie Faustie and what have you. Even the headmaster and his assistants were not spared. The headmasters usually retained the standard ‘Headzee’ nickname. I hear the immediate past headmaster was called ‘Worfa’. I also recall there was the ever dreaded ‘Payaa’. Some of the teachers were well aware of their nicknames and sometimes affectionately responded to them when students cheered them on during special occasions like the Speech Day celebrations.
So now tell me, with this plethora of nicknames laden with fond memories, is it any wonder then that i am unable to recall the names of my old school mates?