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What is in an African Name?

08 Jun 2021

We use names to distinguish one from another. So, when persons in one location bear the same name, adjectives are used to distinguish them. In Africa, names are woven around family history, endurance, and divine revelation. E.g., Tutu of Asante was named after the deity Otutu and his name signifies the struggles endured by his parents. In Igbo, Chisom means “God walks with me”, while Tiaraoluwa means “Lord’s wonder” in Yoruba. Among Hausas, children born on Sundays and Thursdays are called Danladi and Danlami respectively, while children born after twins are called Gambo and in Ghana, Bobo means born on Tuesday.
  As we all know, names are what we use to identify one another; to distinguish ourselves from others. If you have ever come across two persons in a given area that bear the same name, you may have noticed that in addition to their given names something more was added to tell one from the other; this is where adjectives come in, making it possible for you to hear someone being called "dark Ekpeanwan” and another “fair Ekpeanwan”. In Africa, names are usually woven around tales of family and tribal history, drama, politics, hardships, endurance, and sometimes divine revelation. For example, in the ancient Asante Empire, the first king Osei Tutu was named after the Asante deity Otutu; the god that blessed his parents with him as a son after they had experienced years of infertility. His name embodied not just the name of the deity but also the struggles and ridicule his parents must have endured before he was born. Today, some African families give their children European (English, French, Portuguese, etcetera) names, a practice that became rampant following the colonization of most African countries, which today have made those European languages their official languages. Sometimes, parents give their children these names because they believe such names can help the bearer get farther in life. In other cases, they do so because “it is what people do nowadays” Although most children in present times are given European names, parents usually have the presence of mind to also give their children tribal names because they know that such names have great meanings which could and do alter the destiny of the child. For instance, where, in Nigeria, a woman had been unable to conceive for a long time and doctors had repeatedly told her that she was infertile, then out of the blue, with no help from the doctors she conceives and gives birth; this is regarded as a miracle by her and all who hear her story. It doesn’t matter what the doctor says to explain this happenstance; God is believed to have a hand in her conception and birth. So, at the naming ceremony, if the woman is Igbo, she could give the child any of the following names: Ogechukwu – meaning God’s time, Nkechinyere – meaning God’s gift, Ifechimere – meaning God’s works are endless, Chisom – meaning God walks with me, Kaitochukwu – meaning let’s praise God. The list is endless If the woman is from the Yoruba tribe, she could name the child: Ireoluwa meaning goodness of God, Tiaraoluwa – meaning Lord’s wonder, Ayomide or Ayotunde – meaning Joy has returned, Diekololaoluwa – meaning God’s blessing isn’t small, and so on. In South Africa, such a child may be named Jabulani which is Zulu for “rejoice” or Lindiwe meaning “waited for” This is the way with most African societies, there is history in a name. An African name is a kind of oral tradition it tells the family’s and the child’s history In Ghana, children are sometimes named for the day of the week on which they were born; for example, a boy born on a Monday may be called Kojo or Adjo; the name Abeiku means “a child born on a Wednesday”; a child born on a Friday may be called Afi, and when Ghanaians come across a man named Bobo, they can boldly conclude that he was born on a Tuesday. Now, Africans who speak the Hausa language are found in a considerable number of countries in West Africa, including the Republic of the Niger, Cameroon, Benin Republic, and Chad; but they are predominantly found in Nigeria. Not unlike Ghanaians, speakers of the Hausa language have names that quickly indicate to other members of the tribe the day on which a child was born. So, a child born to a member of the Hausa tribe on a Sunday could be named Danladi; a child born on a Thursday may be named Danlami, the name Danjuma represents “a child born on a Friday", while a child that comes after a set of twins may be named Gambo, which means “child born after twins”. Zimbabweans believe that a name not only tells the history of the person but also reflects the hopes and aspirations parents may have for the child. This is the African way, this is what is in an African name

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Haunted Places in South Africa

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28 Apr 2021

Rwanda, so Interesting

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28 Apr 2021

African Dance STyles

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02 May 2021

Africa Mathematical Games

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02 May 2021