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Eyo Mensah

Eyo Mensah

NIAS Fellow

Project title

Personal naming practices and environmental sustainability in Nigeria

Research question

In what ways, and to what extent, do personal naming practices reflect awareness of environmental sustainability in Nigeria?

Project description

Eyo Mensah’s  project explores how small-scale societies in Nigeria use personal naming practices to create awareness, promote environmental resilience and minimise the depletion of natural resources such as forests, farmland, hunting grounds and fishing waters. Specific names are given to children as measures to ensure that human society operates within ecological limits to protect and preserve nature.

Mensah is drawing on the socio-onomastic theory, which takes into account the social, cultural and situational domains in which names are given and used. The goals of his project are to investigate how personal naming practices are used to enhance knowledge of environmental sustainability and to improve understanding of historical processes of conserving nature and culture in some local communities in Nigeria.

He concludes that naming practices form an important keystone of traditional epistemology. These practices promote a culture of sustainability, with the aim of improving the quality of all forms of life. And they reveal a variety of concepts of identity which are related to environmental issues.

Selected publications

  • Mensah, Eyo. 2024. Death is the cause of my predicament: A cross-cultural study of death-related personal names in Nigeria. Death Studies 48(7), 641–651.
  • Mensah, Eyo. 2023. Husband is a priority: Gender roles, patriarchy and the naming of female children in Nigeria. Gender Issues 40(1): 44 -64.
  • Aboh, Romanus, Eyo Mensah, Idom Inyabri & Lucy Ushuple. 2023. Christianity and the gendering of personal names among the Bette in south-eastern Nigeria. Journal of Religion in Africa 53(1), 53-77.
Eyo Mensah