Naming ceremonies in Ghana

  • Naming Ceremony

    This ceremony is called “abadinto”. In the Akan societies of West Africa, names and the process of naming are essential since everyone and almost every living entity has a place and mission in the world. When asked “Wo din de sen?” ; “What is your name?” by responding with your name you are easily identifiable as being born on a certain day and  also of your order of birth.

    Timing

    After an Akan baby is born he or she is kept indoors for eight days. The eighth day is the day of the naming ceremony, ‘Din to’.

    How it is done

    The first name received is called the Kra din or “soul name”, and is determined by the day of the week that the child was born. This is because Nyame (oun’-yah-may’) and Nyamewaa (oun’-yah-may’-wah), the Great God and the Great Goddess respectively, whom together constitute the Supreme Being in Akan culture, placed seven of their children over the seven days of the week. The child also receives its formal name or good/ideal name, ‘Din pa’, on the eighth day. The formal name defines the function of the child in the world as it relates to his or her specific Ancestral Clan and his or her potential for manifesting wisdom and influence. The din pa carries the vibrations that will empower the individual to properly incorporate Divine Law and restore Divine balance throughout his or her life according to Ancestral protocol. Traditionally the naming ceremony begins and ends before sunrise. It is the father that has the responsibility of naming the child, thus the family comes together in the early morning at the father’s house. After the name is acquired, the infant is given to an Elder from the father’s side of the family who announces the kra din and din pa to the family for the first time.

    There are two cups ritually utilized during the ceremony. One cup contains water and the other Nsa (strong drink). The Elder dips his index finger into the water and places it on the mouth of the infant saying, “When you say it is water, it is water.” He dips his index finger into the nsa and places it on the mouth of the infant saying, “When you say it is nsa, it is nsa.” This is repeated three times. This is done to instil within the infant a consciousness of morality-the necessity of always living in harmony with the truth for all of her/his life.

    After this is completed gifts are presented to the newborn, after which the remainder of the nsa in the bottle is shared with members of the community. The full name of the newborn is spoken to each member of the community, and each member sips some of the nsa as a show of respect for the child and as a gesture towards the newborn’s health.

    Importance

    • The ceremony bestows the child a name and identity.
    • By giving a name the society confirms the individual’s existence and acknowledges its responsibilities toward that person.
    • The name differentiates the child from others; thus, the society will be able to treat and deal with the child as someone with needs and feelings different from those of other people.
    • Through the name, the individual becomes part of the history of the society, and, because of the name, his or her deeds will exist separate from the deeds of others.
    • Naming ceremonies also mark the beginning of the laying of the foundation for good morals and values such as truthfulness.
    • The birth certificate the parents receive when they register the child’s birth becomes a kind of ticket or passport to some of the essential services the society offers its members.

    Sample Names based on Order of Birth.

    • Order                  Male/Female name
    • First born               Píèsíe
    • Second born           Mǎnu/Máanu
    • Third born              Meńsã́/Mánsã
    • Fourth born            Anan/Anané
    • Fifth born               Núm/Anúm
    • Sixth born              Nsĩã́
    • Seventh born          Asón/Nsṍwaa
    • Eight born              Bótwe
    • Ninth born              Ákron/Nkróma
    • Tenth born             Badú/Badúwaa
    • Eleventh born         Dúkũ
    • Twelfth born           Dúnu
    • Last born                Kaakyire

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  • gggThis ceremony is called “kpodjiemo”. 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.

     Timing

    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.

    Importance

    • The ceremony bestows the child a name and identity.
    • By giving a name the society confirms the individual’s existence and acknowledges its responsibilities toward that person.
    • The name differentiates the child from others; thus, the society will be able to treat and deal with the child as someone with needs and feelings different from those of other people.
    • Through the name, the individual becomes part of the history of the society, and, because of the name, his or her deeds will exist separate from the deeds of others.
    • Naming ceremonies also mark the beginning of the laying of the foundation for good morals and values such as truthfulness.
    • The birth certificate the parents receive when they register the child’s birth becomes a kind of ticket or passport to some of the essential services the society offers its members.

    How it is done

    A person of good character and reputation in either of the two families, or outside of them, is asked to take the child in his arms, hold it up and bring it down three times gently on the floor, sprinkle water on it 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 or quarter where the ceremony is being performed, will say the following prayer for 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!”

    Oh yes! may the Gods pour their blessing upon us! Oh yes! may the Gods pour their blessing upon us! Oh yes! may the Gods pour their blessing upon us! A child has been born ; we have formed a circle round to view it.

    Refreshment mostly of corn beer is served. The floor would then be opened for donations and gifts from family members and friends. This phase of the ceremony is characterized with some copious doses of humor, jollity and frivolity. Each donation or gift is accepted with joy of jubilation offering thunderous thanks and blessing to the donor.

    source: ghanaweb.com

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  • ccccThe naming ceremony among the Ewes (a tribe in Ghana from the Volta Region) is known as “Vinehedego”.The Ewe’s use a system of giving the first name of a child as the day of the week that the child was born. This arises from a belief that the real name of a child can only be determined after the child has shown its character. However, as a child is a person, not an object, the child must be referred to by some name in the interim, so a name is provided based on the day of birth.

    Timing

    The rite is performed on the 8th day of the child. The ceremony takes place in the morning.

    Importance

    • The ceremony bestows the child a name and identity.
    • By giving a name the society confirms the individual’s existence and acknowledges its responsibilities toward that person.
    • The name differentiates the child from others; thus, the society will be able to treat and deal with the child as someone with needs and feelings different from those of other people.
    • Through the name, the individual becomes part of the history of the society, and, because of the name, his or her deeds will exist separate from the deeds of others.

    How it is done

    An elderly person of good moral standard is chosen to perform the rites. Libation is offered while the child’s name is being mentioned simultaneously.
    Water is sprinkled on the named child. After, the child is given sugar to taste. If the child is a boy, it is given gin or schnapps to taste. The Elder dips his index finger into the water and places it on the mouth of the infant saying, “When you say it is water, it is water.” He dips his index finger into the gin or schnapps and places it on the mouth of the infant saying, “When you say it is gin or schnapps , it is gin or schnapps.”

    This is repeated three times. This is done to instil within the infant a consciousness of morality – the necessity of always living in harmony with the truth for all of her/his life.

    Other names can be given depending on the circumstances surrounding the birth. After this is completed gifts are presented to the newborn.The ceremony ends with a feast and merry making.

    source: teenink.com.