Don’t Answer to Your Name


The informant,KO, is a sophomore and one of my closest friends here at USC. We met in our freshman dorm and often exchanged cultural stories since we had very different backgrounds. He spent the beginning of his childhood in Nigeria, and at age 7 he and his family moved to Toronto, Canada.

Main Piece:

Interviewer- So I know we’ve talked about it a lot but tell me about a superstition from your childhood or even now that has stuck with you.

K.O.- There are so many, Nigeria is very superstitious but there’s one that always comes to mind. So y’a know how sometimes you just randomly hear your name? You’ll be walking or just chilling, and you look around because you hear your name but no one’s there. It happened to me a lot when I was young, and my parents used to tell me never to answer. They said it was a witch calling my name to lure me out. I don’t know if I necessarily believed it, but I definitely thought about it when I would randomly hear my name.

Interviewer- Did you ever answer just to see what would happen?

K.O.- (Laughs) Uh yeah, and then I would be terrified some witch was going to come after me!


This folk belief that KO shared with me is based upon an occurrence that has likely happened to everyone at least once, including me. This type of belief can be considered a sign superstition or sign magic because it is based on an unexplainable event in real life that is viewed as a sign or warning. These folk beliefs can reveal a lot about the culture and people who live by them as they share amongst their folk. KO’s superstition shows the significance that witches and curses have in Nigerian culture and a societal fear of bad magic. It is common within all types of folklore for children to be the target of evil spirits or witches, so it makes sense that KO’s father would have heavily emphasized the superstition when he was young.