Say My Name, Say My Name…

Child naming ceremony

Child naming ceremony

In my place, when a child is born we don’t give the child a name immediately. We wait for the Ibo traditional eight market days, before a proper naming ceremony is performed for the child. So until the child’s naming ceremony, the baby is simply addressed as ‘baby’ for a girl or ‘bobo’ for a boy.

The parents will present their chosen names to the paternal grandfather who usually presides over this auspicious occasion, in front of a tidy crowd of family members and clansmen.

For this occasion, water, salt, palm-oil, gin and kola-nut must be present. Oblations are offered to the ancestors with kola-nut and gin, after which the well clad baby is presented by the mother for the naming. The water, salt and palm-oil represents purity, health, wealth and peace and they will be dropped on the babies lips one after the other accompanied with prayers and a chorus of ‘ise‘ meaning ‘and so shall it be’ by everyone else.

The list of the child’s name would be read out and attributed. Sometimes, it can be quite lengthy if the child’s grandparents are all alive because each of them will present a name asides from the names chosen by the parents.

I grew up answering different names to each grandparent.

For instance my maternal grandma called me Ngozikaego – which means ‘blessing is bigger than wealth,’ while my paternal grandma called me Adaeze – which means ‘The daughter of the King’ and then my grandpa called me Ekwutosinam, meaning ‘don’t tarnish my good name.’

However, the name that my parents chose, prevails today and it turned out that they chose Jacqueline after Jacqueline Kennedy whom my mother loved her class, composure and style.

My mother said that I made such a pretty and peaceful baby that she not only chose to give me a name that matched my serenity and a woman that she admired a lot, but also the meaning of the name was a deciding factor for her. Jacqueline means, ‘May God Protect.’

It is possible that bearing a French Roman Catholic name contributed to my predilection for all things Frenchy and for being bilingual. I found myself naturally gravitating to things that had the french language tucked inside them.

Β© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha

The Daily PostΒ Say Your Name

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

72 thoughts on “Say My Name, Say My Name…

  1. Was I the only one singing Destiny’s Child when I read the title? lol…I find it lovely that your mom named you after Jacqueline Kennedy. She was full of grace and beauty. Her husband was one of the best Presidents to ever reside over America in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was not named immediately either, but not due to tradition. My mother felt that since she did all the hard work in bearing the baby, the least my father could do was name them.

    After I was born, he wanted to name me Samantha. My mother, being herself, vetoed this. So for 8 days I was called jokingly “little no name Davis.”

    My maternal grandmother found the situation untenable and so she told (or perhaps just suggested) Sara Jane after two spinster great aunts. My father agreed and my mother didn’t veto.

    Then 2 years later, they nicknamed me Sam. And then only my grandmother and the neighbor across the street called me Sara Jane.

    Now only my cousin’s husband calls me Sara Jane. He used to work closely with my grandma on projects and developed the habit from her.

    The name is now meaningful to me because it evokes my grandma in heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is beautiful. I love the traditional names we have with us now. For us we are named after the time of day we were born or a season. My traditional name is Awuor..which is because I was born at midnight.

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  4. This is so interesting. Loved it πŸ™‚ I’m from India and in our culture, it is a little similar to what you mentioned – we don’t name the baby till the baby’s naming ceremony which takes place in the presence of all close relatives and friends πŸ™‚

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  5. I like the fact that the name is so important that it deserves its own ceremony! I was very careful what name I chose for my daughter and the meaning of her name is ‘bringer of light’ which was perfect as she did bring light into my life. πŸ™‚

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  6. I really love it when you write about traditions and such from where you come from. I don’t ever travel but I love traveling places in my mind. Also why I like your pics of our neighborhood idea. Just can’t take pics well with shaky hand. Anyway, please write more on traditions or join in on a post I am going to do about ceremonies, rituals, and traditions soon. Love Jackie Kennedy too. Great choice for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting!! I love that you shared your culture, and how it affected your name being chosen! My answer to that question was “well my Dad chose it for me” lol! Yours is WAY better!

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  8. I love tradition, and I love that families are included in naming a baby. My grandparents had their own name for me, too, but only because they disapproved so strongly of my parents choice. Actually, now that I think about it, it took my parents about a week to pick my name because they were so sure I was going to be a boy! (No ultrasounds back then.) But no traditions there. That makes a much lovelier story, and you have a lovely name, named after a lovely woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find the giving a name to a child a very interesting thing. A lot of people that I have spoken to have some interesting episode or the other around their name. The tradition is a lovely thing that I hope will not die out in a hurry. Thank you Belinda πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you my dear friend. I kinda like Azul though. Sounds exotic and you know what, you can actually petition for a name change. I remember a lady that I used to know way back in Nigeria, she hated her name for reasons unknown and she did a name change and went to court to swear an affidavit. Instead of being saddled with a name that one didn’t like.


  9. Apart of being touched by the beauty of keeping ancestors’ tradition – alas, for how long yet??- I found the part of the many names and their translations funny, though significant. That your maternal grandma would call you Ngozikaego – β€˜blessing is bigger than wealth, is very much in line with the way I feel about my own maternal grandmother: she always used to make sure we understood how many valuable things must come ahead of wealth; but then your paternal grandma called you Adaeze – β€˜The daughter of the King’: the mother of the son would always stress on the importance of greatness for her son and son’t offspring; and your grandpa calling you Ekwutosinam, “‘don’t tarnish my good name.'”? How relevant for a patriarch (in my experience, grandfathers are always that) to say this to his daughter or granddaughter – I don’t know if you ever thought of that, but to me, they all fall in place:)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I went by a nickname in school, then decided that my given name was much better as an adult. I find it amusing to tell people, esp. those names michelle or Michael, that the name means God-like or superior! I also find it amusing that my sister took into account what their initials spelled out when naming her children!

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  11. What an interesting cultural ritual! Hmm. Makes me more intrigued about African culture overall. You have a beautiful name by the way. But you knew that already πŸ˜‰
    Um, I don’t think I would rename myself though. I don’t mind my name actually. And I was named after my father. But I do appreciate what my name means (and I really ought to remember it more.)

    Carlos, meaning “man of freedom.”

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I love it when you decorate my heart with your words..

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