Naming Ceremony among the Ga’s of Ghana

The Ga tribal group reside in Accra, Ghana. They occupy an area of land bounded on the west by the Densu River, on the east by the Chemmu Lagoon, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and on the north by the Akwapim Hills.

The birth of a child is heralded as a moment of great joy and ecstasy among family members. Since the Ga’s follow a patrilineal system of inheritance, the naming ceremony {locally termed Kpojiem) – outdooring} is conducted in either the home of the child’s paternal grandfather or his/her father’s home. Also, a child is usually named by his/her father. The name conferred upon a child encompasses tribal names, family names, day names, fetish names, kra names and nicknames. It should be noted that each Ga settlement  has unique names. The six main Ga settlements are:

  1. Ga Mashie
  2. Teshie
  3. Osu (Christianborg)
  4. La (Labadi)
  5. Tema

Owing to these distinctions, one is able to determine the exact family lineage upon hearing the name of an individual member of the Ga ethnic group. For instance, individuals belonging to the La Klaŋnaa ethnic group have the following family names:

Ga-Names

The naming ceremony of a child is conducted on the 8th day of birth and is a joyous occasion. Family members and well wishers assemble at the home of the child’s father bearing corn, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)  and gifts between 2:00am and 4:00am. During the initial phase of the ceremony, the designated individual in charge of performing the rituals associated with the naming ceremony takes hold of the child in his arms. He then raises the child up gently toward the heavens and then lowers him gently toward the floor. This act is performed thrice. Thereafter, he sprinkles water on the baby three consecutive times. Upon the completion of this act, the child’s  name is conferred and made known to attendees.

A sense of morality is also imbibed into the child by the designated individual.  He carries out this function by dipping a clean finger in liquor and transferring a minuscule quantity from the tip of his finger onto the tongue of the baby. Afterwards, he repeats the procedure above with water. He then tells the child to let his/her yes be yes and no be no(symbolically represents honesty).

The final stage of the naming ceremony is marked by blessings and well wishes being bestowed upon the child followed by entertainment ( eating, dancing and interactions among guests).

Written By Sher

 

References:

 

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