There is more to a name than simply a simple, functional tag that identifies someone; it is a symbol and an emblem of that person. Choosing the right name can affect a person’s character, social identity, and even destiny. Ultimately, the meaning of a child’s name determines much about his or her future.
In Ghanaian society, a traditional naming ceremony is a practice to usher the newly born baby into the living by giving the child an identity. Ghanaians hold the belief that name has a huge bearing on the child thus, they take their time to do background research about the intended name, its meaning as well as the clan or family traits of the name.
Among the Southern and Northern ethnic groups, the naming ceremony usually occurs on the eighth day after the child is delivered. It is always a requirement to allow the mother time to recuperate, and more importantly, to make sure the baby intends to stay in the world of the living.
This means that both the child and the mother have to be in healthy condition before the ceremony since it serves as an occasion to celebrate the safe delivery of the mother as well as welcome a new member to the family and society at large.
Akans are one of the major ethnic groups in Ghana with dominant culture and language in the entire country. Just like other ethnic groups, Akans have their traditional naming ceremony in Ghana on the eighth day after the child’s delivery.
Events Before the Naming Ceremony
- Naming a child is the sole responsibility of the father in a typical Akan society. However, mothers are sometimes consulted to give suggestions that may be accepted or rejected by the husband.
- Before the actual day of the ceremony, the father of the child and his family buy clothing, perfume, and adornments for the mother and child.
- Elders within the family are informed about the day of the ceremony in other for them to have it in their schedules.
How Naming Ceremony Is Done Among the Akans.
- The new mother wakes up early, take a bath and dress in white clothes. The wearing of white clothes is to signify victory over death. Akan believes that there is a thin line between a mother in labour and death, Thus, safe delivery must be celebrated with the wearing of white cloth as a victory over death.
- The child is sent to the extended family house where family members and loved ones have gathered for the occasion.
- The child’s father mentions the name to the family head who in turn, mentions it to the people present.
- Alcohol and water are dropped into the child’s mouth to indicate two different existences in this world, truth and lies. The is to tell the child to be truthful all time and devoid of lies.
- Libation is poured to the ancestors for their favour on the child. Blessings are sort for the child and members present as well as pregnant mothers yet to deliver.
- Finally, members present at the ceremony give the mother and the child items for the child’s upkeep while congratulating her and welcoming the child to the living world.
In a typical Akan society, this traditional naming ceremony in Ghana takes place in the morning in other to pave way for people to go about with their daily activities.