BIRTH IN GHANA – HOW TO NAME A CHILD
Birthing a child in Ghana is widely seen as a joyous occasion for parent, extended family, friends and society. Children in Ghanaian society represent fertility, wealth, status and continuity of family lineage.
Outdooring and naming ceremony
Naming a child is a significant part in the Ghanaian culture since by doing this a child is given recognition and an identity. Outdooring and naming is a typical ceremony performed amongst all the Ghanaian tribes though the process may differ a bit in each tribe. The outdooring is the time where the newly born is formally introduced to the world. This usually takes place on the 8th day after child birth and done very early in the morning before sunrise. The purpose of waiting for this number of days after the birth of a child is to ensure that he or she has come to stay on earth and will not prematurely return to the abode of the ancestors (Asamando). Until that day, the child is regarded as a “stranger”.
Newly born babies are not allowed to be brought outside of their homes until this ceremony is performed. It is believed in many communities that evil spirits and other negative influences may bring bad luck to the child. It is the father that has the responsibility of naming the child but on the day of the ceremony, the naming is carried out by some elders from the father’s side. During the outdooring, respectable people are called to pour libation due to their religious beliefs. Mostly, strong drink and water are placed on the tongue of the baby by the elder dipping a finger into the liquid. Strong drink and water are used to tell what is good from what is bad. The various tongues for the proclamations the elders make depends on the community or tribe. The baby is then given a name, which is concluded with a family name (surname). The name is then called out for the guests to repeat loud to formally welcome the child into the world.
Both outdooring and naming are mostly done together. This is because the naming ceremony is relatively short so it makes preparation easier if the two are done together. Since the ceremony is a celebration of a new life, friends and families of both parents are brought together to feast with singing and dancing. Those invited bring the child gifts such as money, clothing and baby items.
Choosing a name
The name of the child is picked depending on a number of factors such as the day of the week they were born, gender, whether twins or not, what number of child they are to their parents, circumstances under which a child is born, ethnicity and family.
For the purpose of this article, let us look at how the Akans in Ghana name their children based on the day of birth ‘’Kra din’’ and circumstances.
Names based on day of birth
|Days||Male Names||Female Names|
Some names given to a child under special circumstances
|On the field||Afúom||The field|
|On the road||Ɔkwán||The road|
|Happy circumstances||Afiríyie||Good year|
|After long childlessness||Nyamékyԑ||Gift from God|
|After death of father||Antó||It didn’t meet him|
Birth Registration in Ghana
The registration of a birth in Ghana is done at the Births and Deaths Registry. There is at least one Registry Office in each registration district manned by a District Registration Officer, who supervises the registration system through the registries and reporting centers in the district.
- The birth of every child is to be registered in the district where the birth occurred
- There is no de jure or de-facto discrimination between mothers and fathers in the registration process. The Fathers name is entered even if the parents are not married.
- It is the duty of the father or mother or both to report the birth of a child for registration. In the absence of the parents, one of the following persons is allowed by law to report the birth for registration.
- The owner of the premises in which the child is born.
- A person present at the birth.
- A person having charge of the child to furnish the prescribed particulars for registration.
- The informant will be required to produce evidence of birth, such as a clinical weighing card.
- A Registration assistant administers a questionnaire, (the Birth Report Form ‘A’) to the informant. Information thereby collected is recorded in the register of births following which a Birth Certificate is issued.
- The birth should be registered, free of charge within 12 months of occurrence. Registration outside this period attracts a prescribed fee.
- The law establishing birth registration makes provision for late registration of births. It however, stipulates that the birth shall not be registered after the expiration of 12 months from the date of birth except with the written authority of the Registrar of births and deaths and upon payment of the prescribed fee.
- The parent or child can apply for a certified copy of entry in the Register of births any time the need arises.