My name is Dobi, which is really short for Adaobi, a name traditionally given to the first-born, or only daughter in an Igbo family. It literally means ‘daughter of the house’.
The Igbos put a lot of importance in a name. They are a way to either bless your child, like a way of predicting good things about them or their life, or to praise God for the birth of the child, or sometimes they even refer to the struggle of bringing that child into the world. Whatever it is, Igbo names are powerful things, words often used through generations, but NEVER taken lightly.
So Dobi means ‘daughter of the house’. It’s not my only name, Adaobi is in fact my middle name, kind of like my title within the family, but it’s still a name I cherish and love. Why? It gives me purpose, something to aim for, and something to aspire to within the most basic form of my identity. In traditional Igbo culture, a daughter of the house would have had many qualities and abilities. She needed to be strong. She needed to be nurturing and loving. She needed to be beautiful inside & out, an asset to her family.
Living up to expectations whether unspoken, verbalized or put on birth certificates can be a tough deal as one goes through life. I’ll admit that many times I’ve felt myself fall short of bearing Adaobi qualities. Everyone has their personal struggles and well, that doesn’t always leave much room to be what other people expected or hoped you’d be. But hanging on to my name, being semi-conscious of it, there in my identity, waiting in the wings, ready for it’s time to shine, that’s something isn’t it?
I remember the moment I decided Dobi was going to be the name I went by as an artist. Up to that point in my life I’d gone 20 odd years without ever really giving the name too much thought. It’s a very common name given its meaning and use in almost every Igbo family that has a daughter. But sitting down thinking about what I wanted to call myself, thinking about the kind of artist I wanted to be, Adaobi and all of it’s qualities of strength, love and beauty was perfect! And it was already mine! I tweaked it a little into Dobi and a daughter of the stage was born. I think if I’m honest, in a way I felt like if I couldn’t quite fill Adaobi’s shoes in my everyday life, I would honor her and try to fill those big boots somehow through my music.
Sometimes don’t we all need a fresh slate? When I felt like I wasn’t cutting it as Adaobi at the point my life that I decided to wipe the slate clean and give the title a new start through music. Looking back now, I feel like more of those desired qualities may have filtered down into my everyday life. I wanted to be Adaobi, the bar was set and I wanted to jump it somehow, to really bring the spirit of Adaobi into my life! Some close friends have told me that I’m like a different person when I perform, still me but just… MORE! I found a new part of myself through music and songwriting. Maybe for you, your path to fulfilling the expectations placed on you by others, or that you’ve placed on yourself, needs to start from a different place than where you always thought it would.
Always hold on to who you are, who you are meant to be, the best version of yourself. It may involve looking back at the past, but it will certainly also involve stepping boldly and with a fresh start into the future.