By Charly Solomon, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

During my experience in Ghana, I had the opportunity to participate in an African naming ceremony. The naming ceremony is a tradition in the Torgorme village, approximately an hour and a half north of our port. After a baby is born, the family waits one week to see if the baby survives. It is then on the eighth day that the family will bring the baby out of the home and show him or her to the public. When the baby is born, the baby is given an English name; however, they only receive an African name after the family is sure that they were meant to survive. The ceremony consists of African dance and song, followed by the chief of the village introducing the baby to the community by its new African name. The giving of an African name is a symbol of welcoming a new person into the village. All of the village comes together for these ceremonies as this a big celebration for a new member of the community. 

During our naming ceremony, we were brought up in groups of five to stand before the village and receive our new African names. When it came my turn, they told me my African name, Aozo Kakra. There are two names that one is given during the ceremony, a birth name and a life name. One’s birth name is depends on what day of the week a person is born. The life name is decided by the chief and the other elders in the village. My name, Aozo, means that I was born on a Monday and Kakra means blessed. 

It was a wonderful ceremony to experience first-hand and see how much this village appreciates the culture and environment that they have formed. If you were given an African name, what do you think yours would be?