Contributed by Mark Stevenson Fuo

Link: http://www.dtruth.talkspot.com/aspx/templates/pro5a.aspx/msgid/207813

"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 born baby. 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. The meaning of this is that each family has its own tradition, and therefore, its own historically determined name-group. The tradition may derive from the kind of profession that it is known for. For instance, a family of hunters may name their baby "Ogunbunmi" (the god of iron gives me this). Or it may derive from the kind of religion it practices. For instance, a family of Ifa worshippers will name their baby Falola (Ifa has honor). The bases on which names are given are much more varied as can be seen from the following examples taken from Samuel Johnson's The History of the Yorubas"

Like quoted above, most Christian Yoruba families have deviated and completely given up calling their children names that are linked to orisas or deities. Whereas in Bahia, the Afro-Brazilians practicing the candomblé religion are taking up these names. 

In Yoruba land, it is mandatory that when a child is born, two parties are held. One is called Iko omo and the other is so omo l'oruko. The first welcomes the child into the world and the second is the naming ceremony where names are chosen for the child. Family members, friends and well wishes play active roles in these parties. Depending on the financial capability of the family, popular musicians could be hired to perform, goats and cows, are slaughtered, new clothes are bought and the streets are of course blocked. Gifts of all kinds are brought to the child to grace the occasion. "Since it is generally believed that names are like spirits which would like to live out their meanings, parents do a thorough search before giving names to their babies.

Naming ceremonies are performed with this in mind. The oldest family member is given the responsibility of performing the ceremony. Materials used are symbols of the hopes, expectations and prayers of the parents for the new baby. These include honey, kola, bitter kola, atare, water, palm oil, sugar, sugar cane, salt, and liquor. Each of these has a special meaning in the world- view of the Yoruba. For instance, honey represents sweetness, and the prayer of the parents is that their baby's life will be as sweet as honey.

After the ritual, the child is named and other extended family members are given the honor to give their own names to the child. They do this with gifts of money and clothing. In many cases, they would want to call the child by the name they give him or her. Thus, a new baby may end up with more than a dozen of names"

 In Bahia, there is no such thing as a naming ceremony; the name of the child is given immediately the woman is pregnant and aware of the sex of the child. When the pregnancy is say 2 months and above, the friends and family members of the pregnant woman rally around her to have what is called chá de bebê,(baby shower) where they buy all sorts of stuff that the baby will need. This is a way of rendering financial assistance to the family. There is also what is called chá de fraldas, where strictly napkins and diapers are bought for the baby. In the past, in Salvador, when the baby is born in the hospitals champagne is popped up and drunk by family members while men smoke cigars. For Christian families, basically Catholics, the child is baptized 2 months later. Unlike in the Yoruba tradition, visitors are not allowed in until the child is a month old, but close friends and family members could see the child before the prescribed one month for visiting. During the visits, the parent of the new born prepares special presents for the first 10 visitors to the house. One thing that is presently rampant that can never happen in Yoruba land unless a woman is medically detected to have complications during child birth ,is the embrace of cesarean birth ( C-Section). 90% of families with pregnant woman comfortably embrace this form of birth in Bahia and even go extra mile to advice all pregnant women that it is the best form of delivery, because it relieves the critical pain of child birth.

Want to add more information?

If you would like to tell us about the ceremony that is practiced in your region or culture or tradition, write about it. We will take a summary of it and add it to this website. We would love to read about more ceremonies and traditions. Send information to smi@sweetmotherinternational.org