Some days back, we reported the bizarre story of a Nigerian man who was arrested and charged with a “conduct likely to cause breach of the peace” for naming his dog Buhari, in honour, he says, of the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
The police have said that Joachim Iroko’s unusual choice of name may have offended some of his neighbours, who abhor dogs for religious and cultural reasons.
But should it really matter what name you give your pet, and how can it be a crime in itself?
Joachim’s case exposes something about the tensions that exist in modern-day Nigeria’s mixed communities.
Joachim is an Igbo Christian, but he lives in an area of south-western Ogun state, which has a large communities of ethnic Hausas, who are Muslim.
Naming a dog Buhari may have been doubly problematic for the Hausa community, which considers dogs unclean for religious reasons and strongly supports President Buhari, who is from the same ethnic group.
So perhaps Joachim didn’t choose the wrong name, but the wrong place in which to give the name to his dog?
Nigerians are not against giving eccentric names to their pets, or indeed their children.
I remember interviewing a painter many years in Lagos who told me his name was Honest Millionaire.
Former President Goodluck also charmed many with his name.
A lot of children born during his presidency were named after him in hope that they would one day occupy the highest office in the land by sheer luck.