Child Naming Among the Ga’s

As soon as a child is born, the husband and his family are at once informed, so that they may go and congratulate both the mother and the newcomer.

The husband then sends a present to all who have assisted at the birth. The present frequently consists of rum, and therefore called “Defomo dan,” the hand washing rum.

The husband then sends one of his cloths for use as a pillow for the child. This is absolutely necessary, as it is the first actual sign of recognition by him that the child is his.

On the eighth day, a week after birth, according to the native calculation, the child is taken out and publicly presented to families of both the father and mother, as well as to friends at the father’s or grandfather’s house, if they live in separate houses.

The mother’s and father’s families meet together at the paternal grandfather’s house or the father’s house in the morning between 2 and 4; they take to the meeting items like corn, wine and other drinks.

A person of good character and reputation in either of the two families, or outside of them, is next asked to take the child in his arms, hold it up and bring it down three times gently on the floor, sprinkle water on the baby three times, and then the father’s family name the child with one of their family names.

Next the owner, or the eldest person in the house where the ceremony is being performed, will say the following prayer of blessing on the child:

Tsua Tsua Tsua manye aba. Tsua Tsua Tsua manye aba. Tsu-a Tsu-a Tsu-a manye aba, Osoro (Osu) Ahatiri, Obu Ahatiri, Oboro dutu wokpe, Wodsebu wodse nu, Wo ye wo nu wo kodsii adso wo, Gboni bale etse yi ana wala, Enye yi ana wala, Esee tuu, Ehee fann, Eyi aba gbodsen, Ese aba halaann, Wekumei wona faa ni wo fa le, Eba tsu eha wo ni woye, Eko atasi ni eko aba, Ganyo humile koyo tsua dani owieo, Tsua Tsua Tsua manye aba,”

To which the others answer “Yao!” A free translation into English of the above would be:

Oyez! may the Gods pour their blessing upon us! Oyez! may the Gods pour their blessing upon us! Oyez! may the Gods pour their blessing upon us!

A child has been born (presented); we have formed a circle round to view it.

Whenever we dig may it become a well full of water: and when we drink out of the means of health and strength to us!

May the parents of this child live long!

May it never look at the place whence it came!

May it be pleased always to dwell with us!

May it have respect for the aged!

May it be obedient to elders, and do what is right and proper.

May many more follow, full of grace and honour!

May the families always be in a position to pay respect and regard to this child, and out of his earnings may we have something to live upon!

May it live long and others come and meet it!

As a Ga person does not speak at random, so may this child be careful of his words and speech, and speak the truth so that he may not get into trouble and palavers!

Oyez! may the Gods pour their blessing upon us!”

To which the others say “Amen!”

This ceremony is called “kpodsiemo” and is made up of three words meaning in English Annunciation, Proclamation, and naming. Some people compare the word with “Baptism.” Whatever the meaning, there can be little doubt but that the form of ceremony seems similar to the Jewish one.

The Name.

This is the most important thing among the Ga’s, much more important, even, than their tribal facial cut, which is of comparatively recent origin.

Just as it is possible for an instructed person to pick out a Ga man from among thousands of other people of a different tribe, so he can also distinguish from among most of the Ga people to which family he belongs as soon as he hears the name of that person.

In old days a Ga man would die for his family name; and, just as it is considered an insult, not only to the person to whom the affront is offered, but also to the family to which he belongs, to serve him with a summons personally, so it is considered and unpardonable defamation to call a man or a woman by a name other than the one which was given to him or her on the eighth day after his or her birth in the presence of the families of both of his or her parents.

Further, in former days a Ga man asked for nothing more than to die fighting in the midst of his family, under the family banner, with the family war song ringing in his ears, or in the time of peace to die in the midst of his family, and be laid to rest under the ground in the family house.

It is this enchantment in the family name that makes every man go to war taking for his party the father’s side; in a word, he does all he can to enhance the fame and the good name of his family.

It appears that in other tribes there is always a difficulty in naming a child; therefore children are mostly called after the day on which they were born. But there is no such difficulty experienced among the members of the Ga tribes because, in most cases, if not in all, children are born into their names, i.e., before a child is born, it is known what name it will bear, irrespective of the day on which it is born they have their names according to the order of their birth.

It may be mentioned that in case a husband in either line has more than one wife, the issue of each wife has to be named the same order in the particular line and number.

There are generally two sets of names: the senior or first set, i.e., the fathers; and the junior or second set, i.e., the children. The fathers give the names in the second set to their children, and the children give the names in the first set to their own children. It means that the customary law lays it down that children are bound to give to their own children the names which their fathers, uncles and aunts bear or have borne.

Among the Ga tribes one or two of the following are given to children, viz.: Tribal names. Family names. Day names. Fetish names. Kra names. Nicknames. The following are the names in general use among the hole of the Ga tribes, viz.: Ayite (Male), e.g., Ga Nyo Ayite/ Ayele (which is for Female), e.g., Ga Nyo Ayele/Dede/ Korkor /Tetteh (male). Ayi.

 

Family Names.

It is evident that a country like that occupied by the Ga tribes must necessarily contain a population made up of heterogeneous groups containing two or more families with distinctive names and customs peculiar to each of them, besides the general custom of the mass over which a Mantse rules or the unity of masses over which the paramount head called the Ga Mantse reigns.

Apart from any fame or importance which any particular family might have attained subsequently in politics or otherwise by individual exertions on the part of a member or by a whole family, the fact remains that these family names have in their origin a meaning attached to each of them, and also that they are arranged like a chain in make and female lines.

It is quite true that many of the family names have lost their original meaning, yet some of them can be traced even now. In this matter of the family names it is considered expedient to take Accra, the principal town of the Ga people and the seat of the Ga native government, which also has become the seat of the English government since the seventies, wherein the following family names exist.

  1. The Ankrah Family
  2. The Armah Family
  3. The Kwatey or Kpakpa family
  4. The Damte Family

 

 

Curled from Ghanaweb