The baby naming ceremony is a beautiful ritual for many people; it is an occasion to introduce the little one to his/her new world. Most of the African names come with the beautiful story behind it. Several incidents from the birth of the child inspire the parents to give them a unique name. Not just the names but the rituals or the ceremonies of baby-naming is unique and different in Africa.
The naming ceremony of a baby is an obvious ritual and a necessary rite of the child for his/her passage in entire life. In African society, the baby naming ceremony is the ritual to announce the birth of a little angel in this beautiful world. It is more like introduce the child with her/his extended family. The name the baby gets will influence his upbringing and personality also.
There are different ways of baby naming ceremony in Africa:
After the birth of a baby, many people gather in a place and pick out the names. It can be influenced by negative or the positive circumstances that the child’s family is going through during the time of his/her born. In most cases, names come in complete sentences in such cases.
This is one of the most popular ceremonies in Africa. This ceremony observed by the Benin Empire specially or the people from Edo state. This is mostly a female affair that performed usually after 7 days of the child’s birth. Close family members and the parents of the child, gathers before 10 am and pray for the child. The older person from the family anchor the program and she ask the mother seven times what she likes to call her child. After asking seven times, she beautifully whispers the last name to the child’s father and then he shares it to the mother and then announces loudly.
This child naming ceremony of Africa is performed usually by the priest or the Babalawo. By wearing a white dress they start the ceremony with a small prayer, a small introduction of the child’s family and the guest. They perform song and prayer to please god as there is a new addition in their family. The eldest person offers 7 symbolic things to the child with the desire to bring success for him/her. The mother of the child tastes those things and then everyone presents their desirable name for the child and finally, the priest selects the one for the little baby.
This ceremony starts and even end before sunrise. Elders of the family gather for the ceremony, they pray and then thank their ancestral spirits. The name usually come on the basis of the day and week the child is born. One of the elderly members from the child’s father side loudly announces the name to the world.
Umtata naming ceremony
Umtata people celebrate Sifudu ceremony. During the celebration, by facing down the head of the child, the family members walk around a fire that lit middle in a room. This fire is beautifully made up with some Sifudu leaves.
Another fascinating baby naming ceremony of Africa is Congo ceremony. The prevalent religion of the Congo society of Africa is Christian. So the child gets a Christian name to follow by two different traditional names. The maternal uncle of the child usually selects the name or the sister of the mother. This name reflects different events during the birth of the child or it may reflect the special story of the family.
People from Tanzania usually celebrate this naming ceremony after three days of his/her birth. They regard the child as a spirit before the ceremony. They slaughter a goat to appreciate the ancestral spirit. They thank them for such precious gifts like a child. An elderly woman of the family gives a new name to the child at the end of the ceremony.
Hutu people Rwanda celebrate the naming ceremony after 7 days of the baby birth. The mother and the newborn child stay at home during the 7 days period and they are not allowed to go outside the home. Children and adults attend the ceremony; they enjoy it and then have the food served the family members.
These people celebrate the naming ceremony after six days of baby birth. They send an invitation to guests and the father offers kola nuts to the guests. They offer other foods to the guests too. Imam visits the house of the child and slaughters a specific animal given by the child’s father. They pray in Hausa and Arabic and the father offers gifts to the imam. They select the name from Koran and the father selects it for his child. if there is a boy, the name should reflect the prophets and the name of the girls should be inspired by the historical figures.