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NAMING SYSTEM
The naming system in Ghana is very unique and unlike any other system in the world. When a child is born,it is kept indoors for at least seven days. During this period the mother is allowed to come outdoors but the baby is not supposed to come out except in a case of emergency or when it is really necessary. On the eighth day, the child is given a name.The child is not assigned a name before the eighth day because during that period it is considered as a stranger from the ancestral world who has come for a visit. However, the logical reason was that in the ancient days when child mortality was very high a lot children died before their eighth day and therefore the elders decided that they are going to wait for the eighth day after which if the baby is still alive, then it would be considered as a human being and then given a name. The waiting period was to lessen the pain that the mother would go through should the baby die before the eighth day since the elders believed it is more painful for to name the baby for it to die before the eighth day than for it to die nameless.

Days of the week in Ghana are very important aspects of the naming culture. In Ghana everyone is supposed to have a day name in addition to his other names,which will be disclosed in due course. The day of the week on which one is born determines what name he is called.There are day names for each of the seven days. The names come in pairs for each day;one for a male,the other for a female born on that day. Below are some of the names that people are called by and the corresponding days on which they were born;

DAY OF THE WEEK MALE FEMALE
MONDAY KOJO ADJOA
TUESDAY KWABENA ABENA
WEDNESDAY KWAKU AKUA
THURSDAY YAW YAA
FRIDAY KOFI AFUA
SATURDAY KWAME AMA
SUNDAY KWESI AKOSUA

Therefore for a child born on a Wednesday, if it is a boy, it shall be called Kwaku but if it is a girl it shall be known as Akua. One realizes that yours truly's day name is Yaw, implying that I am a Thursday born. If I, at birth, happened to be a female, I would have been named Yaa.

On the child's eighth day on Earth, it is also assigned another name, this time a name of a very influential and good citizen of the community that the child's parents are grateful to and would like the child to take after when it grows up. A lot of people are named after their ancestors that led a life worthy of emulation the belief that when the child grows up it will lead a life similar to that of the one that it is being named after. Mine is Sarfo who was a great chief of a town in Kumasi, Ghana several decades ago, with the natural assumption that when yours truly grows up, he is going to be a great leader of his people, just like his ancestor, the chief. Amen.These first two names of the child is what he or she usually(not always)goes by at home.

After these two names have been given to the child, the parents also decide to give the child another kind of name depending on their religious inclination. A child born to christian parents will be given a christian name from the the HOLY BIBLE, a child born to pagans will be assigned a non-religious name, which in most cases turn out to be English names(due to Ghana's encounter with the British in the colonial era. For a child born to muslim parents,it is given a name with an islamic background.

When this is done, the child is then given its last name(surname) which in most cases, is the name of its father.My last name is Owusu-Ansah, which is that of my dad(this is usually the practice in most parts of the world. As a result of the very long nature of the names, most people have about two sets of names;one that they go by at home and another that they use on their formal documents. Usually the day name and the name of the ancestor that the baby is expected to be like upon maturity are what the person goes by at home and the first and last names are used in formal settings.Therefore, with my full name being Joseph Yaw Sarfo Owusu-Ansah, I go by Yaw Sarfo at home and Joseph Owusu-Ansah in formal settings(This explains why I have only my first and last names on all my records).

For more information about the culture or anything else on Ghana,click here.
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MAIN PAGE | PERSONAL ALBUM | INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN MY LIFE | AUTOBIOGRAPHY | LEARN ABOUT GHANA | HOBBIES AND PERSONAL INTEREST | FUN STUFF FOR YOUR RELAXATION NAMING CULTURE IN GHANA | WEEKLY SCHEDULE FOR FALL 2001
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Last updated 06/01/01
All Contents Copyright © 2000, JOSEPH OWUSU-ANSAH,Berea College, Berea KY 40404 USA. (859) 985-7570