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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>CNN’s Zain Asher: What happened to her Igbo and Nigerian name?
Sunday, 02 February 2014 16:19

CNN’s Zain Asher: What happened to her Igbo and Nigerian name?

Written by Emeka Chiakwelu
Zain Asher Zain Asher

The whole wide world is celebrating Chiwetel Ejiofor, the Oscar and Golden Globe nominated international and sensational movie star on his superb and protagonist role in ’12 years a slave.’

Nigerians and Africans were happy and excited to see one of their own receiving such acclamation and glowing recognition from Hollywood and Academy Award. It was easy for everybody to recognize that his name CHIWETELU EJIOFOR   is not Asian or European but African.

Chiwetelu Ejiofor is proudly an Igbo name that comes from Igbo people of Nigeria. Nigerians and Africans do not have to scratch their heads to figure out his heritage with his outstanding Igbo name.

‘Chiwe’ Ejiofor was born in England to Nigerian immigrant parents Arinze and Obianuju Ejiofor .  His parents were of Igbo heritage of Nigeria and they maintained their Igbo culture, name and heritage   which they successfully passed down to their son, Chiwetelu  Ejiofor.


But who is Zain Asher?


chiwetel ejiofor zain asher brotherChiwetel Ejiofor in the middle flanked by his sisters with Zain on right


She is Chiwetelu Ejiofor’s younger sister who works as a financial reporter for the network news CNN. Zain Asher is an Igbo woman despite her non-Igbo name. Both siblings have same parents with same Igbo heritage. One chooses to keep his Igbo name; another chooses to drop her Igbo name.


This is becoming common to many Nigerians and Africans especially those born in Western world and actors in Nollywood.  Most of the time , the parents are poor cultural and heritage ambassadors because some of them believed that native, tribal and country of origin’s name may be a barrier to a successful career in  Europe or America. But they failed to understand that the psychology of name can be a source of pride and joy that makes one to be dedicated in upholding the integrity of one’s heritage.  Take away the pride of native name and one becomes generic, assimilated and uninteresting.


The rush to assimilate and to be acceptable may contribute to the dropping of native names and gushing for western names. The anatomy of this evolving peculiarity may also be rooted in inferiority complex and colonial mentality. The believed that everything western is progressive and civilized while anything outside curtains of western socialization be it African or Asian is regressive. But such a perception is not the truth


It must be highlighted or noted in some cases some people chose a name that is alien or different from their heritage simply because they happen to like it and nothing is wrong with that provided there is no ulterior motive.

But what’s in a name?

The modus letters are enumerated

The way it’s voiced

Or to whom it belongs

Then, what’s to a name?

To the history it belongs

Or how larynx fickle with it

Is it the way it looks?

Appears lazy … fast before the eye?

Or is it the way it sounds?

handsome, antiquated, oddity or strange?

Can it sound positive?

Can it sound melodious?

Can it sound timid?

What’s in a name?

… pronouncing or spelling ?

Or unbearable attention it summons

What’s it connotes

Good or bad, beautiful or ugly

What’s in a name?

… the name or the person ?

What is a name ?

Yes…   it’s the language

No . . . it’s the yesteryears


Do tongue know . . . anymore


eeEmeka   Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,,

Last modified on Monday, 03 February 2014 16:32

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