Names Have Special Meanings in Many African Coutries

By Fortune Djenonyombaye

Name giving is very important in many cultures and countries. Maybe we have been named after somebody or after a special event that happened to the family. Maybe our names remind our parents of things back in the days of earlier times. Names are so precious to us.

Names vary in different countries. Some names vary depending on the cultures of the country. Some names vary because of family customs and beliefs. In Chad tradition, names have a lot of meaning, and sometimes they represent a person who was lost during war or maybe death has taken them away. My name, Djenonyombaye, means "The lady who praises the kings and the queens." It was my grandmother's name given to me after her death. Fortune is a name that my mother gave to me because at the time I was born, my mother was studying to pass her baccalaureate and a couple days after my birth, she passed her exam. She said she was proud of what I had done for her. I brought her "fortune."

According to Zelika Compaore, her name "Compaore" means "God's spirit has gifted her." Her parents gave her this name because "they are expecting prosperity and many hopes," she said.

In Ghana names are giving according to the days that your are born. Darlene who is from Ghana said, "I was born on Friday and I have the name "Afia."

Tizeta Girma, who is a senior from Ethiopia, said that her last name, "Girma" is her father's first name. That is the custom for giving last names in Ethiopia.

Eurykah, who is a junior from Cameroon said her culture is different from other cultures. Her parents named her "Eurykah" which has the meaning "Don't listen to gossip because you are someone special." She has that name because before she was born, her parents believed she was listening to their conversations. Donal, who is a senior, has another name "Berinyuy" which means "Thank God." It was given to him because he was the first born of his parents.

Changing names when people get married also varies in many of the African societies. In some countries people have to take their husband's name after getting married. For example in Burkina Faso, when people get married, the wife has to take her husband's name. She doesn't have any choice. But in other countries like Chad, a wife doesn't have to take her husband's name. It is up to her to take it or not. In my family, when my mother got married, she didn't take my father's name. She kept the name that was given her at birth.

Copyright Silver International Newspaper 2002 (This page was created by Junior Max Destine)