Akan-Ghana Naming Ceremony
In Akan culture, when a child is born, the parents and elders will wait patiently for 8 days (Nawɔtwe) before the child's naming ceremony is performed. This ceremony symbolizes the initiation of the new born baby into his or her new community.
The reason for waiting for 8 days is that, some new born babies are on a mission and did not come to stay, so they may go back to the ancestors before the 8 days elapse. Thus, some babies are sent by the ancestors to either deliver or come for a message. Therefore, it will be waste of time and resources to initiate babies on mission into the community.
In Akan culture, every first born is named after the father of the baby's father and second born after the mother of the baby's father and the rest can be named after any respectable elder in the community. Also babies can be named after an ancestor, with this, a living elder will stand in for the performance of the naming ceremony.
On the day of the ceremony, very early in the morning, all the invited guests and family members of both parents will be present in the house of the father of the baby's father. Things needed for the ceremony will be presented to the elders for the ceremony to commence. Things such as locally made pot, glass of water, bottle of locally made wine, a cock, a special leaf, baby clothes among others.
When all things are in order, an elder will pour libation thanking the ancestors and the deities for giving them the baby, ask for protection, long life, prosperity and also ask all good spirits which came with the baby to stay and the bad ones to depart from the baby.
After the libation, the baby is given to an elder whom the baby is being named after, the elder will then dip the special leaf into a glass of water and drop it on the tongue of the baby saying, ''if it is water, say it is water'', the elder will then dip the leaf into a class of wine and drop it on the tongue on the baby saying, ''if it is wine, say it is wine''. This act is repeated thrice, and believed to help the baby to be truthful, loyal and faithful. Thus, the baby gets to know what is good, bad, right, wrong, evil among others.
After this, the cock is circled around the baby thrice, and this is believed to do away with bad spirits and invite good spirits to the baby. Also tools used in the occupation of the person the baby is named after will be introduced to the baby, this is to inculcate the habit of hard and wise working into the baby and do away with laziness.
After these rites, those who came with gifts will present it to the baby and the mother. Elders, family members and invited guests will share hand shakes and drinks among themselves. After everything, an elder will pour libation to thank the ancestors and deities for seeing them through the ceremony peacefully and successfully.
After the ceremony, and old woman from the baby's father's family will sweep the place the ceremony was held, put the rubbish in a locally made pot and a young girl will help her carry it to the refuse dump. At the refuse dump, the old woman will take the pot from the young girl and smash it on the ground saying, ''all good spirits which came with the baby are welcomed to stay and bad ones are to go away for they have nothing to do with the baby again''.
When the old woman returns home, she will kill the cock, used it for soup and feed the new born baby with the liver and put portion of the liver on a piece of broom and then place it in the hair or the baby. This symbolizes the baby's father welcoming and wishing the baby best of luck. After feeding the baby, the rest of the meat is share among members of the nuclear family and some elders.
These marks the end of the baby's naming ceremony and the baby is now a fully accepted member of the family and community.
Odikuro Nana ESSOUN.
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