Say my name, say my name

The first step as a parent is to choose a name for the unborn child. The sources of names are widespread. Parents are surely all trying to signal their own expectations of how successful their children will be. Preferred are unique, wild, trendy, biblical or ethnic names. However, many parents seem to believe that a child cannot prosper unless it has the right name. They are seen to carry powers.

In Germany for example, there is a prejudice against certain surnames and associate that these children like to seek for attention. Names like Justin, Chantal, Pascal, Kevin and Dennis are commonly associated with troublesome characters. Children named Sophie, Alexander, Jonas or Max for example are mostly the lucky ones – posh and living the good life.

Naming issues in the African community living in Germany is rarely, as for some unknown reasons but funny facts – many Africans like to name their child after a white person, who had been good to him or her or them. Typical German names like Hans, Detlef, Gregor or Richard are to be found amongst a proper looking Black African.

And on the other hand, many Black Africans have some very uncommon names such as Kissmate, Beauty and Loveleen. The most interesting naming ceremonies I was part of recently are the names Jita (Jesus is the answer) and Jasson (S for special). They may face some embarrassing situations but it does not have to be the cause of their names. This fact alone should tell you that Ghanaians do not play with Child Dedication and Naming Ceremonies at all.

In the African culture, Christening and Naming Ceremonies have a great importance to parents. Religious names are significant for blessings, protection of evil spirits. ‘A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.’ – Proverbs 22:1 (International Bible Society 1973:461)

As an example on my name Anita, it does not signal a typical Black African girl’s name. My mum said, apparently my first name Whitney was not fully recognized so she was asked to give me a second common name. I do not know up to date, what sort of law that was but end of the day I do not mind my double name. In fact I love it. Whitney – Anita.

In Ghana for instance, the Akan tribe name their children on the day of birth. Names are given by the Weekdays and family members have influence on the child’s name too.

Weekday                      Weekday                      Girls                    Boys

English                         Twi                                Name                  Name

Monday                         Adwoada                      Adwoa                  Kodjo

Tuesday                       Abenada                        Abena                 Kwabena

Wednesday                  Akuada                          Akua                   Kwaku

Thursday                      Yawada                          Yaa                     Yaw

Friday                           Afiada                            Afia                      Kofi

Saturday                       Miminda                         Ama                     Kwame

Sunday                          Kwesiada                      Akosua                 Akwesi

Names do not only signify a person’s origin or even ethnic but also has apparently some marketing influence. We live in a marketing-oriented society. I do wonder at times if distinctive black culture is the cause of the economic disparity between blacks and whites or merely a reflection of it.

Despite any negative prejudice, people should not be valued on their personalities and cultural setting without knowing them.

A name cannot make us who we are and what to become in life. No one can make it up without motivation, encouragement and hard-work.

The sign a child’s name send to the world, does not really matter.