We can all agree for the most part that irrespective of our cultural leanings, an individual’s name is an important part of one’s identity. People form an impression of you when they hear your name, which is why some parents spend money on baby name books in anticipation of their child’s birth. Even with the rich diversity that exists among cultures in Africa, it is commonly known that names are meant?to?bear a meaning, one that is unique to a child.
In many?African?cultures, not only is your name a personal brand, many believe that names in a sense have spiritual implications and typically carry meanings that are meant to follow you or proceed you for the rest of your life. As people call your name, they are speaking the meaning of your name into existence. For example, the Yoruba name “Temitope” which loosely?translated?means “Mine is to give God praise” alludes to a life that is meant to exude or be a product of God’s grace or glory.
Some names are associated with a period in time or certain circumstances around a child’s birth. For example, the Swahili name “Aidah” which when loosely translated means “visitor returning” could describe the return of a special visitor in the form of the child. Similarly, the Yoruba name “Babatunde” is meant to allude to the return or presence of a father figure in the form of the child. The Zulu name “Lindiwe” is given to a child that has been long expected or a child whom the parents have been waiting for.
Children can also be given names based on the day of the week they were born on. For example, the female Akan name “Akua” is given to a child that is born on a Wednesday. Birth order is celebrated as well, where in the Yoruba culture, the first of twins is called “Taiwo“, the younger twin is called “Kehinde” while a child born after a set of twins is named “Idowu“.
This is a snapshot of the many different reasons behind the celebration of a child’s birth across different cultures. Names are telling, choose wisely!