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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's in a name?

Common to culture, the Akan people give their children names according to the day they were born and the child's gender. If you are to ever attend an Akan naming ceremony, you will witness the delicate approach the parents address the reason for naming their children. It is more than just naming their son "Kweku" because he was born on Wednesday but the "soul name" that comes after the day name has quite a large significance as well.

When I was on Sunlight Radio, we had a show on the relevance of a traditional Ghanaian name in a modern society, since it seems as if many Ghanaians are no longer giving their children traditional names as first names. Rather, they use the traditional names as middle names or do not officially acknowledge them at all. It was an interesting discussion and one that I hold very dear to my heart because my parents had a traditional naming ceremony for me but have never acknowledged me by my day name at home. I've always been Mabel. When I got older and became more attached to my heritage, I felt a need for my traditional name to bear more importance in my life.

I mean, if I was to ever marry and change my last name to a non-Ghanaian one, how can I let the world know of my true background? Or if I was to make a notable contribution to the world, how could I let them know I am a Ghanaian if my first name is "Mabel" and my last name is no longer Ghanaian? (I keep mentioning this because I will eventually marry a non-Ghanaian and will change my name and that puts me in distress (the name thing, not the marriage! lol) sometimes which you may possibly think is unnecessary and not a big deal and I'm sure you're right but... I digress).

So with little things, I began to include the fact that my name is Ama. Ama Kyeiwaa to be exact. I was named after my father's grandmother so that officially makes my name Nana Ama Kyeiwaa ("Nana" hints that I was name after an grandparent. At times it can allude that you were named after a royal). The funny thing is that I was not born on a Saturday as my name suggests. I was born on a Monday. So technically I am supposed to be "Adjoa" but my parents didn't follow the rules. It seems that the rules can be bent as long as you're officially named and/or named after someone...

So it brings me to my current location in Ghana where everyone seems bent on calling me by my day name. I don't mind, I like it. Even my roomie, Andrielle, goes by Yaa! But to make the situation even more interesting is that my name is the brunt of giggles and exclamation.

Kyeiwaa is the name of a popular Ghanaian movie character in the movie series "Kyeiwaa". I think it has gone up to part 10 recently. And as you can tell from the picture, Kyeiwaa is not a nice lady.... One person told me to absolutely reject my name because of this movie character. As if my great granny has anything to do with Rose Mensah's crazed acting.... anyway.....

And "Obinim", my last name. I share this last name with a popular Ghanaian pastor  bishop who has made headlines recently for his salacious behavior. He has openly admitted to having sexual relations with his junior pastor's wife. Ghanaians are getting a kick out of this drama. I came just in time to enjoy it all.

All in a name.

Click on the following if you want to read up on Akan day names or want to find out your own! There are many tribes under the Akan umbrella so there are variations to names and spellings.

Google "Rose Mensah Kyeiwaa" if you want to know about this dynamic actress who plays a devilish woman quite well. So well, she's won a Ghana Movie Award for it.

Click here if you want to catch up on Bishop Daniel Obinim's scandalous drama. I promise, it gets good.



Lucas said...

My name is Lucas, and I live in Australia. I too are of African descent (more specifically, Ghana) but have never visited. I often look for blogs of people who I think are like me in order to get a first hand experience of what it's like in Ghana. Judging from your blogs, I see you will be there for quite a bit. I would appreciate it if you could give, as much as you can, a detailed first person experience of our motherland. Just as you see it.
Great job with the blogs. Keep up the good work and thanks.

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