The significance and importance of names cannot be ignored as names carry deep personal, cultural, familial, and historical connections, giving us a sense of who we are and our place in the world. Consequently, names depict relationships between bearers of the same surname.

In some cultures, marriage may or may not necessitate a change of name. Some cultures traditionally require that the woman changes her surname and adopts that of her husband when she gets married, while in other cultures, the woman retains her family name or adopts the first name of her husband. Increasingly, however, couples are moving away from tradition and doing the unusual which has resulted in an increase in the incidence of double-barrelled names.

Take the case of Dike Obienu and Motara Wilson. Motara is an accomplished Digital Media Personality and Influencer in her late thirties who has established a strong brand that includes her surname – Wilson Laughs – and always signs off as – Motara Wilson. As the sole heir to the Wilson family, she feels obliged to retain the family surname in the absence of a male sibling. Obidike on the other hand is a suave, liberal-minded marketing Manager in a multinational organisation but hails from an extremely conservative background. While discussing their prospect of marriage, Motara had communicated her intention to maintain her family name for continued brand visibility and its attendant benefits. She also reminded Obidike that her father had “no son to perpetuate his name.” While doing a census of contracts and legal agreements that would need to be reviewed if she were to effect a change of name, Motara had felt overwhelmed at the amount of paperwork required and opined “What is in a name after all? The important thing is to have a successful marriage where mutual respect and understanding are practised.” Dike had agreed but had requested that they consider how it would impact the children. After agreeing that the children would bear the Obienu name, they debated the confusion it could create in the minds of young children who would have mostly friends and peers whose parents shared a common surname with them. How would it sound to have Mum bearing the name Wilson while Dad and the kids are Obienu? He had suggested that a possible midway point was to unite their names and adopt Mr. and Mrs. Wilson-Obienu. After settling this and other issues, the wedding was contracted while they were in the UK but shortly after they returned to their home country, all hell broke loose as Motera’s in-laws could not understand the compromise. Dike’s mum kicked up a fuss as she philosophised “She certainly gives herself airs thinking she is too good for us. Who does that? What woman who intends to stay married retains her father’s name? She should assume our family name if she intends to bond with our family.” Dike however stood his ground and Mrs. Motara Wilson-Obienu has not only proved to be a devoted wife and mother but an asset to the extended family. She is well-loved by all, including mama Obienu.

It is pertinent to consider some of the reasons that are often presented for eschewing the traditional change of name in favour of combined names or retention of the family name:

  1. Lack of a male heir to perpetuate the family name.
  2. Professional visibility and attainment in the family name.
  3. Affiliation of the name to Traditional worship or religion.

While some of the reasons sound plausible Havilah considers it an increasingly important discussion to have prior to getting married as this seemingly trivial matter can generate complications for the couple, especially in climes where the concept of retention of the family name or merging the two surnames is little understood by the extended family and the society at large. There are a lot of sentiments attached to names and one must tread gently in order not to offend people’s sensibilities.




Toru, a 34-year-old married hardworking accountant with a top-notch hospital was recently diagnosed with uterine fibroid. For as long as she knew, her menstrual periods had been extremely painful and in more recent times she experienced very heavy flows which led to anaemia. She was constantly taking time off work for her menstrual flow which was often prolonged. She had believed that once she gave birth, the situation would improve but since her marriage four years ago, she had been waiting on the Lord to get pregnant. It was not until she joined the hospital about a year ago, after observation by some of the medical personnel at work, that she succumbed to investigations and examinations that led to the diagnosis. She then discovered that uterine fibroids are very common among women (particularly those of childbearing age – menarche to menopause) and presents itself in different ways. After a course of medication to control the pain and help shrink the fibroid, she has been scheduled for surgery – myomectomy to remove the fibroid.

What exactly is Uterine fibroid also known in medical parlance as leiomyoma? It is a benign growth in the uterus (womb) that is common, not deadly, but can be disruptive featuring various types of discomfort. Some of its symptoms include heavy menstrual flows, prolonged flows, pelvic pressures, frequent urination, painful intercourse, distended stomachs, etc. It is more prevalent in women of African descent occurring in over 50 percent of women. It can however be asymptomatic needing no treatment and many women live their lives oblivious of its existence.

In mental preparation for her surgery, Toru approached one of their patients – Adeline – to enquire about her experience. Adeline, a young mother with a 3-month-old baby had done a myomectomy at the hospital prior to delivering her bundle of joy through normal delivery at the hospital. Adeline shared her story as follows: “Toru, rest assured a myomectomy is pretty much standard procedure today and has a high success rate. In my case, I did not experience any symptoms except for some pelvic pressure which I suppressed with over-the-counter drugs. However, 5 years into marriage, I kept experiencing miscarriages and initially assumed it was a spiritual problem which took me to various churches for deliverance. At one of such churches, I met Nurse Bimpe who works in your hospital, and she asked if I had considered that it might be a medical challenge and not spiritual. After consultation with the gynaecologist and a series of tests, she informed me that both the size and location were responsible for the seeming lack of symptoms I experienced but that the fibroids which were multiple but small in size, deterred the foetus from developing to maturity and were responsible for the abortions and miscarriages experienced. She assured me that after removal through surgery, I could have a normal delivery. She in fact stressed the need to get pregnant soon after as fibroids tend to grow back after a while if pregnancy does not occur. To the glory of God, I took in and today I am a proud mother”. Adeline also referred to the case of her sister, Paulet, who had her children despite fibroids, without surgery.

Some of the hard facts regarding fibroids are:

  1. It is commonplace especially among women of African descent.
  2. It usually occurs in women of childbearing age.
  3. It could be disruptive and prevent conception and or carrying a baby to term. It can also be responsible for complications in pregnancy.
  4. Fibroids can re-grow after a myomectomy, but not after a hysterectomy.
  5. Risk factors include vitamin D deficiency, obesity, early menarche, deficiency in diet, genetics, high hormonal levels etc.
  6. It can be treated by medication e.g., oral contraceptives, surgery and in more recent times, hormonal antagonists (GnRH) and minimally invasive gynaecological (MIG) surgery such as UAE (Uterine Artery Embolism) and MRgFUS (MRI guided Focused ultrasound).

In conclusion, Uterine fibroids cannot be prevented but the risk may be mitigated by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular pelvic examinations and monitoring. Where diagnosed, appropriate treatment will depend on the individual patient’s age and her desire to retain her fertility as well as the size, location, and number of the fibroid(s). However, in these times, medical advancement has enabled women receive proper treatment with minimum risk of mortality.


HYSTERECTOMY – The surgical process for removal of the uterus of a woman.

HORMONAL ANTAGONIST – A medication which affects the hormones e.g., GnRHA (gonadotropin releasing hormone antagonist which affects the sexual hormones…progesterone and estrogen.

LEIOMYOMA – Uterine Fibroid.

MENARCHE – The onset of menstruation.

MENOPAUSE – The cessation of menstruation.

MRgFUS – MRI guided focused ultrasound is a non invasive and incision free technology that targets and treats tissue and organs in the body without incision or radiation.

MYOMECTOMY – A surgical process for the removal of fibroids while preserving the uterus.

UAE(UFE) – Uterine Artery or Fibroid Embolisation is a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting off the blood supply of fibroids and causing them to shrink.




What will you do if you suddenly discover that your beautiful son who has just started mouthing the word mama, is not yours after all? Did I hear you say…but that is impossible, how can a mother not know her child. We have heard of paternity suits but, maternity suits? I remember my mother used to react to her children’s awkward or strange behavior with the cliché “I am sure these children must have been unknowingly switched at Massey Children’s hospital” – the foremost children’s hospital in her city at the time. I always shrugged it off as a joke, but wait a minute, can it happen? Please read on as I share a post recently forwarded by one of my readers.

How can a husband be genotype AA, wife AS, and the baby is SS? Paternity fraud looming?

3 months after they had their first child, Morin and Deji found out their daughter – Tanti had her first sickle cell crisis, and the hospital evaluated her as having the SS genotype.

At first, it appeared like a joke, an awfully bad one at that. Medically, that is not or should not be possible. They conducted the genotype test in four medical laboratories, and the results came out the same – SS. Deji became very suspicious about the paternity of the baby and ordered a DNA test which confirmed that he did not father the baby.

Deji confronted Morin with the results demanding that she confess to infidelity and explain who fathered the child. Morin was adamant that she had not indulged in any extramarital relationship and therefore Deji had to be the father of the child. She then had a repeat DNA test done elsewhere in the belief that the earlier result was an error. It affirmed the earlier result as to paternity – Deji was not Tanti’s father, as the father must carry the sickle cell gene.

The once cheerful home now became a nightmare and Morin was distraught as her world was falling apart. She had no explanation for what was happening and all the people around her found it difficult to attest to her fidelity – how else could it have happened?

While in discussion with her childhood friend Becky, a lawyer and social worker, she narrated her ordeal and they both agreed to enter into a prayer of agreement for the spirit of discernment and knowledge from God. About a week into prayers, Becky called Morin and announced excitedly “Friend, it appears I have a plausible explanation. Given that I believe all you have told me, then it is likely that you also are not the mother of that child. Why not embark on a DNA test to determine the maternity of the child”? Immediately, Morin seized the straw that would save her from drowning and had the test done. “Voila” the test result proved that indeed Morin was not Tanti’s mum. How did it happen? The error was traced to the hospital where two baby girls born on the same day had been swapped. The police were invited to investigate the “error” and the hospital was sued for negligence and damages claimed for the trauma occasioned. Deji and Morin were also able to trace the parents who had been wrongly assigned their baby and after a series of tests by all involved, they retrieved their precious bundle whose genotype turned out to be AS.

There is a Happy ending to the story …true, but what if the child had been AS or AA rather than SS would the error have been discovered?

What of the damage done to Deji and Morin’s relationship? Will Morin get over the distrust displayed by her husband?

Was it a case of carelessness or negligence or a deliberate act of mischief on the part of the medical personnel whereby they were financially induced to switch babies for a fee?

Havilah welcomes suggestions and comments on how such “errors” can be averted by intending parents.





Trixie and Gbolabo had hurriedly prepared to attend today’s Marriage Seminar as advertised by Marriage Advisers and Counsellors Association Inc, one in a series of many for intending couples. Today’s topic had caught their interest, especially as it is rarely understood or practiced in their environment. PRENUPS or Prenuptial agreements as an option for intending couples. The seminar was meant to enlighten intending couples about prenuptial agreements while highlighting the pros and cons. The Panelists were introduced as follows:

  1. Mrs. Hilda Abdulkareem, a Marriage Counsellor, and the anchor for today’s event. She has been married for 25 years and is a Social Worker with the State government.
  2. Mr. Paulinus Nwaegbo, a practicing lawyer whose firm specialises in Family Law matters.
  3. Ms. Nony Okafor-Badru, a successful Industrialist, and a divorcee.

After the introductions, Nony kicks off the topic by telling her story. “In Africa, prenuptial agreements are rare and yet to gain ground, but I see it as worthy of consideration by intending couples and this is coming from someone who got the short end of the stick when I sued for divorce. If I had a prenup agreement, it would have saved me a lot of heartache. I come from a privileged background with considerable inherited wealth. Naturally, I had been exposed to Investments at an early age, so I came into the marriage with a lot of assets and continued to grow my portfolio of assets in the ten years I remained married. Blinded by love, I converted most of my assets to jointly owned assets with the notion that it would make administration of the assets for the benefit of our children easier, in the unexpected event of the premature death of either parent. Unfortunately, I had not reckoned with my spouse turning out to be an unrepentant drug addict whose drug habit dissipated most of his earnings and I had to maintain the family and sweat the assets to maximise returns. When all efforts to pull Lashe out of his addiction failed, I had no option but to file for divorce which was granted. However, since the assets were jointly owned, they were shared equally, and I really got my fingers burnt. I realised too late that a prenup agreement would have entitled me to the totality of my assets”.

Mrs. AbdulKareem interjects at this point. “Maybe we should backtrack a little and hear from Mr. Nwaegbo . What really is a prenuptial agreement, what are its significant features and what are its pros and cons”?

Mr. Nwaegbo defines a prenup as follows: “A prenuptial agreement is an agreement signed by a couple in which they outline the distribution of their assets in the event of a dissolution of the marriage. It involves full disclosure of all their individual assets and liabilities prior to the marriage and whether assets and liabilities accrued by both parties during the marriage, should be jointly or separately held. It should further state what should happen to jointly held assets including any matrimonial property in the event of the dissolution, Alimony or support, and children from prior marriages. However, key elements to a successful prenup are that it must be fair, without duress and duly signed by both parties. Legal participation is also advised.

It is however important to investigate whether Prenups are recognised or valid in your jurisdiction before embarking on it as not all countries, recognise it. In Nigeria, it is recognised although uncommon. In recent times it is gaining momentum as a fallout of the increased rate of divorce among public figures and celebrities although there are no reported cases yet. In Ghana for instance, it is invalid”.

Mrs. Abdulkareem continues “As spiritual beings we must also consider what our creed feels about it. My position is that Prenups do not fit into the mold of a Christian marriage since the concept of marriage frowns at divorce and prenups are predicated on the assumption of dissolution. Also, it contradicts the selfless love advocated in the bible. Prenups appear to have selfish intent and negate the concept of giving and sharing.

That said though, there are pros and cons to having a prenup agreement in the event of the unexpected – a dissolution of marriage and I use the word dissolution deliberately, as marriages can be terminated by death and even because the marriage was in fact a sham from the get-go. What happens when the marriage was founded on deceit e.g., the man is lawfully married in another town or country before contracting your marriage, or he contracts a subsequent marriage while yours is still subsisting? When the cat is let out of the bag, the logical action is to dissolve such marriage and, in such scenarios, a prenup becomes useful as it makes the separation/distribution of assets and liabilities easier, less traumatic, and less controversial. The most apparent disadvantage is that if not properly broached and executed, it breeds mistrust and can hamper the relationship from the outset. It is therefore advised that if considered as an option, it should be broached early enough in the relationship so that the partner does not feel railroaded or boxed into the arrangement”.

Havilah’s opinion is that prenups cannot be classified as “good” or” bad” but advises that the pragmatic thing is to discuss it as an option and based on the parties’ values and considerations, it can be adopted or discarded.




I have often wondered how you walk in with someone similarly clothed and groomed, yet people discriminate in their reactions even without you uttering a word. What makes the difference? Someone once said, “It is the glow of the skin”.

Azima summoned up courage and walked up to her Unit Manager during her lunch break, she had always admired Mrs. Tita Polycarp for her elegance, poise, comportment, and most of all – her glowing chocolate-coloured skin. Today, she decided to engage her in a conversation about the secret to her smooth even toned glowing skin. Azima had struggled for years with uneven skin tone and often wondered what she could do. She had considered the use of bleaching creams but remembered with pain that her mother had passed as a result of skin cancer that was precipitated by bleaching. As she asked if she could engage her at that time, she quickly blurted out “Mummy P, I can’t help admiring the glow to your skin and felt I can learn a thing or two from you, on how to improve my skin tone”.

Mummy P smiled and waved her to a seat. She then pointedly asked Azima, “What is your skincare routine”?

A clearly perplexed Azima responded with “Ma, I don’t understand the question. I bathe with soap morning and night, cream my body, and apply some make-up. That is all there is to it. Should it be different”?

In response, Mummy P explained “Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin and accepting who you are. By the way, that is a quote from Ellen DeGeneres. Mind you, the skin is the largest organ of the body and the one that is most visible, thereby influencing first impressions. It, therefore, requires needed attention to present it in the best applicable light. You should therefore develop a daily skincare routine using products that work with your skin. To bring out the best in your skin, you must do a minimum of five steps in caring for the skin, in addition to eating a balanced diet that enhances your overall well-being.  using a Cleanser, Toner, Hydrating Serum, Moisturiser and Sun Protection Factor (SPF) protection also referred to as Sunscreen. I realised that once I started the 5-step regimen described, my skin tone evened out and resulted in the skin that elicits your admiration today. Try it and you will savour the results.

Azima thanked mummy P for the information but had two areas that needed clarity. “Please ma, I have two questions stemming from your advice.

  1. I had always assumed that skin toning is a refined terminology for bleaching. Is there a difference and if yes, what is the difference?
  2. I always assumed also that Sunscreen is meant for fair/light-skinned persons who desire to suntan. Why do dark-skinned persons need it since our skin can better accommodate the sun and it is often said that we need the sun to produce vitamin D in our bodies”?

Mummy P highlighted the difference between skin toning and bleaching as follows: – “Skin toning helps clear dark spots and tackles skin discolouration and uneven pigmentation. It is a part of skincare and does not alter the natural colour of the skin. Bleaching, on the other hand, is the process of whitening or brightening the skin with chemicals. Bleaching predisposes the skin to cancer”.

She continued “While Vitamin D is released by the body when it receives ultraviolet rays from the sun, and forms a necessary requirement for us all, over-exposure to the ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun can have damaging effects by accelerating ageing, causing skin eruptions and in extreme cases, causing cancer. It is however true that dark skin requires greater exposure to the sun to enable the required access to generate Vitamin D, however, overexposure can cause sunburn and may result in cancer. It is therefore important to modulate exposure to the sun’s rays by staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing as well as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Where exposure cannot be helped, a broad-spectrum sunscreen is advised with an SPF of 30 or above. It should be noted that the sunscreen should be applied liberally and evenly at least 30 minutes before venturing into the outdoors and reapplied after 2-3 hours”.

Azima thanked Mummy P and promised to put the advice to work with a promise of feedback after six months trial.