The Naming Ceremony of James Kofi Owusu-Ansah
On February 21st 2009, I was invited to a naming ceremony at the Martin’s West Hall at Security Boulevard. It was for a three months old boy. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Owusu- Ansah were the couple hosting the event. They are from the Akan tribe in Ghana, West Africa.
The baby-naming ceremony or Out-dooring is the first of many life-cycle rituals performed in the Akan culture throughout a person's life. The Akan do not name a child until a child's been alive for seven days. The feeling is that the baby night be a spirit who has come to look at the world and then go back. After a child is born, according to tradition, the mother and child are usually kept inside for at least seven days. There is no big hoopla or big excitement about this baby for seven days. In fact, if the child should pass away before the seventh day, there is no mourning for that child. If the child lives for seven days, then it is felt that the child has come to stay and be a part of the community.
There was quite a crowd of big names of Ghanaians in the community and Dr Kwesi Mfume was among those seated at the High Table. There was a priest from the church the family attends, an appointed linguist who presented and interpreted the naming process to the guests at the ceremony. There was an elder who was the uncle of Mr. Owusu-Ansah. Traditionally, the child's name is given by one of the elders of the family. The first name is usually the day of the week on which the child was born and in this case the child was born on a Monday so he was called Kofi. The second name is something specific, and personal about the child, such as something about the birthing experience, or an ancestor's name, and since they were Christians the parents named him James, and the third name is the family's name, Owusu -Ansah. The priest said a prayer asking blessings for all who were gathered, especially for the baby. The gods and ancestors are asked to protect and...
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