African Naming Practices Maggie Dunn Period 1

Usually, when two slave owners get married, slaves are a gift to the couple from the woman's family. Because they are from the wive's side of the family, they will take the last name if the wife's father.

Slaves were not allowed to use the same name as a child of their master for their own child. If they did this they were harshly beaten.

Former slaves sometimes made up a last name based on what they did for a living. For example, a slave from Wessyngton was called Billy the Smith because he was a blacksmith. After the emancipation, he became William Smith.

20 Common Early African American Girls Names and their origins

Betsey (English)

Betty (English)

Cela (Greek)

Coffey (English)

Dido (Greek)

Dinah (Hebrew)

Flora (French)

Jemima (Hebrew)

Juba (Hebrew)

Keziah (Keziah)

Lucy (English)

Patty (German)

Phibe (Greek)

Rebecca (Hebrew)

Ruth (Hebrew)

Sabina (Spanish)

Sukey (Hebrew)

Susan (Hebrew)

Tamar (Hebrew)

Venus (Latin)

20 common Early African American Boys Names and their origins

Abraham (Hebrew)

Antony (Italian)

Ben (Hebrew)

Caeser (Italian)

Charles (English)

Daniel (Hebrew)

Edwin (English)

George (English)

Grafton (English)

Homer (Greek)

Isaac (Hebrew)

James (Hebrew)

John (English)

Kitchi (Native American)

Lewis (English)

Sam (Hebrew)

Scipio (Italian)

Tandey (English)

Thomas (Greek)

Walter (Greek)

Among the Zulus people from South Africa, the word for name is agama which means your symbol.

In some African settings, when a child was given a name, the symbolic meaning of the child’s name was painted on a round pebble in red or black. This symbol was kept as long as the person lived. When the person died, the “named-pebble” was broken into two pieces and returned to earth’s soil returning back into the spiritual world.

Among Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, and Botswana tribes in South Africa, a person’s name held monumental spiritual power, so much so that it was very important to hide your true name until great trust was built between you and another person. Then and only then could you reveal your true name.

The Akan-speaking people of Ghana tend to name their children based on the day of the week they were born, on the day the soul enters the body.

The names of peoples, objects, spirits, tend to originate from an variety of religious, mythical, social, and historical realities.For example, a child that is destined to cyclical birth is named Bejina (come and stay), and likewise, a child whose father is unknown, or who is born to aging parents is called Nyame Kye which means God's Gift.

This way of naming was also similar among other peoples in West Africa such as the Hausa, Ewe, Igbo/Ibo, and Diasporic Africans who were either seized during the Slave Trade or moved from these regions to the Americas.

Usually, the child gets their name from the father, however, the opinions of mothers and grandparents have play a substantial role in deciding a name. In fact, a lot of the time it is the names selected by the grandparents and great-grandparents that are given prioritized.

Giving birth to twins is also a special occasion for the Yoruba. A mother who gives birth to twins is considered to be extremely blessed. The first born of twins is named Taiwo and the second born is given the name Kehinde. Both are considered destiny names. Taiwo means the one who comes first and the one who comes after, Kehinde.

Naming a child after the seventh day is common among the Edo group of Western Nigeria. The naming ceremony usually begins before 10:00 a.m. Family members, elders, and family friends arrive, offering their prayers for longevity, good health, and prosperity for the child and the parents. Usually, the elders then present the child’s father with the family name. The main ceremony resumes at 7:00p.m. It is attended by elders of the family, and their friends. Both male and female are allowed, however, the majority tends to be female. There are several items that are offered up to the child’s ancestors. The items will continue to be significant throughout the child's life.

Many Africans, who were kidnapped and enslaved in the New World, came from the West Central region of Africa. These included the Bantu, people from Congo and Algeria. There is no doubt that these Africans must have brought along their names and naming traditions.

Naming holds immense importance in the traditions of these people as well. Among the Kongo ethnic group for example, a newborn was not regarded truly human they are given a name.

Works Cited

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Maggie D

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