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Five Reasons Why Celestine Donkor Didn’t Marry Mr. Wogowogo

Feature Article Five Reasons Why Celestine Donkor Didnt Marry Mr. Wogowogo
FRI, 17 MAY 2024 LISTEN

In one week, Gospel Diva Celestine Donkor went from experimenting with the Ewe version of the Diabolus ex Machina, to literally pulling down the Greek vehicle of the Deus ex Machina, to solve her tragedy of Ewe Name jokes. The former (the devil from the machine) occurs when a bad situation is introduced to make things worse, as in Celestine speaking down on her tribe. When that happens, the Deus ex Machina (God from the machine) is brought in to fix the mess, like Celestine apologizing after she realized she had misspoken on primetime television about why she is happy with Donkor as her last-name, than her Ewe surname.

The reaction to Celestine’s tragi-comedy of errors has been predictably interesting, but also regrettably revealing. As usual, the proud Ewes have pivoted to Celestine and questioned her place of pride in the Ewe family. A popular tiktoker asked Celestine to seek the counsel of fashionista and etiquette groomer Dzigbordi Dosoo. Incidentally, Celestine’s maiden name is Akapko Dossou.

While the bad joke is still on Celestine, as she tries to wriggle herself out of the throes of the tribe machine, let’s examine her tribal mess in five points.

  1. Are Ewes proud of their names?: Mr. Wogowogo isn’t. Like Celestine, my friend Elizabeth was relieved when her husband, Mr. Daniel Kosivi Wogowogo, agreed that she will not carry the burden of his surname after marriage. None of their three kids bear their father’s last name. They do not even have regular Ewe first names, the kind we are used to, such as Dzifa, Etornam or Delali. I am not sure what name Mr. Wogowogo carries about these days, but I am intrigued that his kids have Daniels as their surname. The last time I called him Mr. Wogowogo in public, he didn’t appear very keen on embracing the name his father gave him. He insisted that I call him Dan. Elizabeth’s reason for her strong dislike for Wogowogo was that it sounds like worms. Most Ewe names are difficult but not wormy.
  2. Archbishop Agyinasare is the proudest Ewe in Ghana: Unlike Mr. Wogowogo, Archbishop Charles Agyinasare, founder of Perez Chapel, gave Ewe names to some of his kids when he married wife Sena. The Achiase man found greater honour in Ewe name Selassie as fitting for his medical doctor son. The Archbishop’s love affair with Ewe names seemed to have bought him some reprieve when he got into trouble with the Nogokpo shrine. He reminded them he had come home. Being familiar with difficult names (the Archbishop’s middle name is Yewurakow) he may be a good case study for anything nomenclature. The only other person I know who crossed over to another tribe to pick a name is Mr. Atia Wilberforce. He tells me he was named after his father’s landlord. Will the reverse ever happen?
  3. We love it when Ewes stick to being Ewes than being non-Akans: I am yet to meet a Ghanaian who wears his Ewe identity with greater pride than Dickson Adeborna, a child protection and counter trafficking expert. Dickson doesn’t answer to a greeting in Twi or any other Ghanaian language, except his native Ewe. Otherwise, speak to him in a foreign tongue, like English. He feels insulted by the assumption that every Ghanaian should be able to speak some Twi, and not his Ewe language. Predictably, his kids bear traditional Ewe names. Most admirably, his Obroni English wife has learnt to pronounce the Ewe names perfectly, with the right intonation and the quintessential voice inflection. Efo Dickson doesn’t forgive easily when you mispronounce the names of his children. He reminds us of proud Ewes such as Prof Kofi Anyidoho, Lolobi scholar Franklin Cudjoe and Ben Dotsei Malor.
  4. If Kuntunkununku is not a tongue-twister, Butsormekpor and Morkporkpor should not twist our tongues: Let’s be honest: we have not been fair to Ewes. We are quick to brand multisyllabic Ewe names as difficult and tongue-twisting, but we associate unusual Akan names with royalty, even when we do not know their meaning. Former Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta, has middle name Kuntunkununku, which means the fearless one. I may not be too quick to look upon anybody bearing Butsormekpor (think of tomorrow and see) as important. I may not even attempt to pronounce it at all but bury it under my tongue as one of those difficult names that can only be Ewe. The recent trend of naming kids Aseda, Adom, and Nhyira among Akans, may have been handed down from our Ewe uncles. A friend named her daughter Glorified. Another calls his son Seraphim. And you guessed wrong: these are Akyems, not Ewes.
  5. Let’s face it: we have all thought like Celestine before: Mr. Shakespeare started it when he asked in Romeo and Juliet: “what’s in a name?” Was it by mere happenstance that four Johns became President in the fourth republic? Wouldn’t you say we got our comeuppance? We all care and sometimes worry about our names. My sister changed hers from Ruth to Trudy because she says Ruth belongs in the Old Testament. If she wanted a trendier name, I would have recommended North, like Kanye West’s daughter. And just by the way, does Celestine know the meaning of the name Donkor? It is an unattractive name given to a child to warn the underworld to reject it if it does come to them. Unlike the ones before, this one must stay. Donkor also means slave, if Celestine cares to know. Whatever Akapko Dossou means, it must be better than a slave.

Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin, Ottawa, Canada. Email: [email protected]

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