A naming ceremony is traditionally held on the baby's 8th day of life (Exactly one week after the child is born). The Yoruba take names seriously, for names have meaning and are believed to live out their meaning. Thus serious effort is put into naming a new baby. Also, the baby's name is not traditionally chosen before the child is born, but is based on a significant event or circumstance at the time of their birth.
As they say, ile ni a n wo, ki a to so omo l'oruko. That is, we have to pay attention to the tradition and history of the family before we give names to a child.
Anyway, before I ramble on for too long, here were the names that were chosen for Baby O yesterday, and their meanings.
- Omolara - "This child is family" or "This child is ours"
- Olufunke - "God's gift for me to nurture/pet" or "God has given me to care for"
- Olatunde - "Wealth has come to me again"
- Harmony - English name, translates to "Irepo" in Yoruba
- Temitope - "I have a reason to give thanks"
- Ololade - "The wealthy one has come"
- Abimbola - "Born into wealth"
- Foyinsola - "Add honey to wealth"
- Yewande - "My mother has returned"
- Joy - English name, translates to "Ayo" in Yoruba
- Arinola - "Right in the midst of wealth"
- Adeoti -"Unblemished crown"
- Adiaha Ete - Efik name means "First daughter"
- Makamba - Efik name means "My old mother is with me again"
- Blessing - English name, translates to "Ibukun" in Yoruba
Significance of some of these names
Olufunke - was my wife's mum's name. She passed away in 2002.
Olatunde - was my grandmother's name. She passed away in June this year. Yewande is a name given when an elderly woman in the family passed away shortly before a baby was born. (In this case, my grandma)
Abimbola - is my wife's name. It's also my mother's name !!
Adiaha Ete and Makamba were given by an aunt of mine who lived in Calabar for years. She speaks Efik, and has given all of us Efik names. Mine is Etekamba. I'm not sure if the meanings (or even the spellings!) are correct, so I'm hoping someone out there can help me out with them.
The actual ceremony
I was going to do this as a separate post, but I've decided to combine everything into one post.
During the naming ceremony, the family and the community welcome a new child and accept joint responsibility for raising it. As part of the ceremony, items used in everyday life are presented to the child as symbolic gifts. The basic items are water, salt, honey, sugar, Alligator Pepper, kola nut, bitter kola,wine, dried catfish, and palm oil. The pen and a book, especially the Bible or the Koran, are fairly recent additions to the ceremony.
Traditionally, each of the items used in the ceremony is rubbed on the child's lips. Today, for health reasons, the mother and father of the child tastes the food items instead of the infant.
Water (Omi) - Water has no enemies, because everything in life needs water to survive. It is everlasting. You cannot hold it in your hands, it will escape.
The child will never be thirsty in life, and like water, no enemies will slow her growth.
Palm Oil (Epo) - Palm oil is used to prevent rust, to lubricate and to massage and soothe the body.
The child will have a smooth and easy life.
Bitter Kola (Orogbo) - Unlike most other kolas, bitter kola lasts a very long time, and does not drop until it is fully ripe.
The child will have a very long life.
Kola nut (Obi) - Kola nut is chewed, and then spit out.
The child will repel all the evil in life.
Honey (Oyin) and Sugar - is used as a sweetener for food.
The child's life will be sweet and happy.
Alligator Pepper (Ata) - has many seeds within its fruit.
The child will have a fruitful life with lots of children.
Salt (Iyo) - Salt adds flavour to food.
The child's life will not be ordinary, but will be filled with flavour, happiness and substance.
Other items which are traditionally used (but which we didn't use yesterday), are :
Fish (Eja) - The fish uses its head to find its way in water, no matter how rough the water is.
The child will find its way in life and never drown, even through rough times.
The Pen - The pen is very important today, because it can be used for both good and evil.
The child will not use the pen for evil and no one will use it for evil against him/her.
The book (Iwe) - The book (bible or Quran) contains the word of God.
The child will be 'God smart' and 'Book Smart'. And may God follow him/her, and he/she follows in God's path.