Traditional African Naming Ceremony – Ahanta

The Ahanta ethnic group is located in the Western Region of Ghana . An agrarian group, they speak Ahanta and Fanti ( components of the Akan linguistic group).

The birth of a child is a significant rite of passage among the Ahantas and is marked by the celebration of a naming ceremony. Usually, the naming ceremony is performed on the 8th day of the month after the birth of a child. The performance of the naming ceremony on the 8th day is symbolic. By performing the naming ceremony on the 8th day, family members gain the assurance that the baby’s arrival to planet earth will not be fleeting. Babies who pass on before the 8th day depart without a name since they had no intention of staying on earth for a meaningful duration.

Since the Ahantas are matrilineal, children born to a couple inherit through their mothers lineage. The name assigned to a child is chosen based on either the day he/she was born or on the circumstances surrounding his or her birth. Also, a child may be named after an esteemed ancestor. It should be duly noted that most names opted for also reflect the aspirations of the parents for their child. Some popular Ahanta names are Kwesi Bentum, Maame Nyanke (pronounced Nyank3 and bestowed on a child born on the 8th day), Maame Wakameni (literally meaning Mother it is left with my eyes) and Maame Nyamenaosi (literally meaning Mother God says ).

                                                                  Images: Pinterest

The naming ceremony of a child is often a festive occasion – much like a party. On the day of the ceremony, well wishers assemble at the venue in the wee hours of the morning. The individual (often an elderly person of integrity) tasked with performing the ritual takes the child from his/her mother and offers a drop (minuscule amount) of palm wine to the child. Palm wine may be substituted with Schnapp (a type of liquor). Without fail, the child either wails or expresses other forms of dissatisfaction with the taste of the palm wine or Schnapp. Thereafter, the child is told to refrain from speaking lies. A drop of water is then placed on his tongue. This step is followed by the injunction that he/she should always speak the truth. The offering of  palm wine and water are symbolic and represent falsehood (palm wine or Schnapp) and truthfulness (water) respectively. This is why they are opted for. After blessings are bestowed on the child, the festivities begin.  Amidst laughter, food and music, well wishers celebrate the birth of the new arrival.

Naming Ceremony 1

 Image : Pinterest

Naming Ceremony 4

Quite a versatile dress, this dress can be worn to various ceremonies including child naming ceremonies! Available at Nopoku .

Written by Sher

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