Generic Naming Ceremony

The tortoise said if the old things happen, do not call her; but if a new thing happens, call her. -Nigeria (Igbo)

behold-sculpture-mlk-nhs-atlanta-ga-18-copyA generic Afridiasporic naming ceremony could flow as follows:

  • Prepare for the ceremony by having some of the following items available: Water (vitality and change); plant (life); soil/earth (child’s origin, humanity’s origin); oil (calm); sugar (sweetness); kola nut (longevity); wine (happiness of community); candle (guiding light); cowry shells (wealth).
  • Drape a small table in African fabric and decorate it with some of the following: African fabric, plants, and African artifacts.
  • Open the ceremony with remarks by oldest relative present; or oldest person present.
  • Bring the child outside or out into the open, and “outdoor” the child. Then have the father lift the baby to the sky, and touch the baby to the ground. Repeat this action up three times for males; and four times for females.
  • Pour a libation of Coca Cola as it contains Kola Nut which is not generally available outside of Africa. Pass the Coca Cola to all attendees who should drink either from the container or motion as if they are doing so.
  • Ask an elder to pass around the elements and make appropriate statements such as, “we give you honey so you may experience the sweetness of life.”
  • Announce the name(s); and the meanings of the name(s).
  • Provide advice to the newly named person, the family; and present gifts. Include presentations of poems, proverbs, speeches, and more. Silver bangles are common gifts, as they are thought to have healing properties and protect children from illness.
  • Feast. Food is one of the most essential elements of the feast, but the feast can also include music, drumming, singing, and so on.

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