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Yoruba Culture-Yoruba Tradition Child Naming Ceremony Isomoloruko

Updated on January 31, 2016

Child naming ceremony


When a child is named

Yoruba people are very particular about the number of days after childbirth to name the child. Interestingly they designate seven days to name a female child and ninth day for males.

Twins are named either on the eight day or ninth day after birth. The vocation and tradition of the family plays an important role in the name of the child.

Yoruba Naming ceremony

Yoruba people are indigenous to the southwest region of Nigeria. Other countries that have Yoruba settlers are Togo republic and Benin Republic.

Yoruba and Igbo names have meaning and great care is taken when naming a child. Yoruba people believe that the name of the child is significant to what he/she becomes in future.

Yoruba names have significant meaning depending on the parents social standing, month or year, parents wealth, educational qualification and even number of children. Every name in Yoruba land has a meaning or significance or religious identity.

The religion, family occupation, family heritage are considered during child naming ceremonies. And they also have preordained names like Taiwo and Kehinde for twins

Got You Daddy

Got You Daddy
Got You Daddy | Source

Preparation for the naming ceremony

The preparation for the child naming starts a day earlier depending on the number of guests. The designated location can either be the groom’s house or grandparent’s house. But the normal location is the couple’s house because of the nursing mother and child.

The number of guests invited dictates the amount of food prepared for the occasion. In a small naming ceremony you can expect about one hundred guests including family members.

But in a larger gathering the number can exceed two hundred. Yoruba people are synonymous with the love for parties but naming ceremonies are slightly tapered down than weddings or engagement parties.

Tents or canopy covering are arranged for the guests including chairs and covered tables which is a common practice in child naming ceremonies. Yoruba people are also known for greetings and salutations including prayer for the grandparents, child, father and mother.

The naming ceremony, time frame and gathering

The traditional Yoruba institution allows a minimum of one week after birth to name the child. The reason might not be unconnected with allowing the mother regain some normalcy after childbirth.

Child naming in Yoruba culture is a family issue and involves both families. The family might decide to do an elaborate naming ceremony or a small family gathering.

Whatever type of ceremony there would be a small party atmosphere where drinks, music and lots of food are served. The family can also decide to have a very small seating room gathering that include only family members.

Yoruba child naming ceremonies are usually carried out early in the mornings between 7AM and 9AM. With only the immediate family in attendance including clerics or priests

Other guests are usually seated outside while the naming takes place in the seating room. The type of priest depends on the religion of the Husband and wife.

The major three religions practiced by Nigerians are Christianity, Islam and traditional worship. Therefore, the priest carrying out the ceremony would likely come from any of the three faiths. Sometimes the actual naming of the child is done much earlier like 6.30AM.

Naming ceremony,Yoruba


Muslim clerics
Muslim clerics

The Ceremony

The naming ceremony is characterized by praise worship, songs and lots of prayers. Depending on the religion of the couple the ceremony is slightly different with each faith.

Yoruba Muslim child naming ceremony

An Alfa and a few Muslim clerics will seat at the head of a table and offer Islamic recitations and prayer. The cleric reads from the Koran and the small family gathering partake in recitations.

The recitations are in Arabic language with the clerics leading while the gathering follows the chants. The recitations and chants are usually adoration and worship to God Almighty for the family and child.

The immediate family seats at the first row especially the grandparents, father and mother of the child. The mother of the child carries the baby and occasionally hand him to the grandparents.


Silver platter passed arround
Silver platter passed arround | Source

Child naming

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Donations during the Muslim child naming ceremony

While the recitations, chants and prayers are ongoing a large silver platter is distributed around the gathering. Guests are required to drop money into the platter as it goes round.

The large silver platter during the brief one hour ceremony goes round the gathering about five times. And each time guests put money on the platter which is submitted to the presiding cleric.

The grandparents give the baby its names and money is given with each name. The father and mother also give the child names and the child usually ends up with about eight names.

The names are written down and handed to the cleric who then reads them to the hearing of the gathering. Yoruba names have deep meaning and are pointers to the origin of the child.

After the naming ceremony the family joins the guest in a small party where sumptuous Nigerian meals are served. The usual dishes at such ceremonies are Amala and Ewedu or Egusi. Others are pounded yam or red rice and lots of chicken, and meat.

Lots of drinks are commonplace in such gatherings like alcoholic drinks, wines and soft drinks.

Mother and child

Mother and child
Mother and child | Source

Yoruba Christian Child naming ceremony

When the priests arrive the family gathers in the seating room with the couple. They start the ceremony with praise worship and songs after which the priest prays.

The praise worship and prayers usually lasts about an hour then the priests give the child a Christian name. The grand parents then give the child names and the husband and wife also provide their own names.

The names are written down and the priests pray for the child, husband, wife, family and gathering. The priest might chose to baptize the child and the brief ceremony ends. After the naming the family joins the invited guest for the after party.

Yoruba naming ceremony

Those that name the child
Types of naming ceremony
Food served on such occasions
Muslim naming
Yam flour meal
Father of the Child
Christian naming
Jollof rice and Plantain
Mother of the child
Traditional naming
Steamed bean pudding
Family members
Church naming
Bean cakes

Bitter kola

Bitter kola
Bitter kola | Source

Traditional Yoruba naming ceremony

Traditional Yoruba naming ceremonies features items like palm oil, kola nuts, honey, bitter kola, and salt. The traditionalist puts a drop of these substances in the baby’s mouth with each symbolizing his journey through life. The sweet, bitter, salty and sour attributes of being alive.

Traditional items use during Yoruba child naming ceremony

1 kola nuts

2 salt

3 palm oil

4 better kola

Meanings of some Yoruba names

Yoruba names have lots of meanings which decode the origins of the child. They have names like Kashimawo which means let us see, Malomo-don’t go again and Banjoko-seat with me.

Other interesting names are Kosoko-no hoe, Adetunde –the crown is back, Olowokere-has lots of wealth. Whatever name Yoruba people choose to call their children you can bet the names carry lots of significance.

© 2016 femi


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