Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Special Baby Naming Ceremony

As a rule, the Gourmantche people don't usually have a Baby Naming Ceremony on the Eighth day after a baby's birth.  But many West African people groups do practice this custom, and for many different reasons.  Some give names based on what events were taking place when the child was born, others to reflect family history or future hopes and dreams for the child.  Often the religious leader of that family's faith will be the one who will conduct the ceremony and give the baby its name.

Many of the Niger Gourmantche have been influenced by the customs of the Zarma people whom they live closest to, and often, among.  So it isn't surprising that the Baby Naming custom has jumped over into Gourma culture as well.  Among the Christian believers, a Baby Naming ceremony from a Biblical approach is often a way for a family to bestow a Biblical name on their baby and at the same time, be able to share their faith with their neighbors.

Recently we had the joy of attending the naming ceremony of our first Gourmantche "Grandbaby".  Baby's parents had both been children in my Saturday Kid's Clubs over the years, moving up into the Youth Group as they became teenagers.  Baby's mom, Ninli, is the daughter of my closet friend in the village, and the dad, Yemin, is the son of close friends as well.  Last year we were happy to watch this young couple get married and to take part in all the festivities surrounding the wedding.

Now Ninli and Yemin had recently had a baby daughter and so they invited family and friends to come to the Naming of baby girl early on a Saturday morning.  Gary and I arrived at 7:30 a.m., when we were told it would begin.  Needless to say, we were very early and so we got to watch all the preparations taking place. One of the pastor's of our churches would do the honors of giving a short message to the parents on their responsibility to raise their daughter according to principles in God's Word and then give baby girl her name.

On arriving at outside their yard, we were just in time to watch the guys skin the goat 
that would make our meal.
Meanwhile the outdoor kitchen was busy with food preparation and all kinds of
village news being exchanged!

Dimbou was being dished out near the kitchen, as a snack to tide the visitors over
until the meal would be ready later that afternoon.

The older women were all visiting just outside their home... the men were on the other side of the compound talking man talk

Mom, Ninli, is expected to stay inside until the ceremony begins, so most of the women go in and pay her a visit while she waits, with baby next to her.

When the parents and baby are finally called out for the ceremony, Gary gets to go by and greet Ninli and Ooo and Ahh over baby girl.
Pastor Jan (In the middle), did the honors of giving a short message to the parents on their responsibility to raise their daughter according to principles in God's Word and then gives baby her name: Rebeccah 

The official ceremony over, Yemin takes his baby daughter around to greet the visitors...

Yemin and Ninli's first family photo with baby Rebeccah

I finally got to hold my "granddaughter"...
AND try to eat my Dimbou (grain with leaves and spices - just delicious!)

 These young men were very patient through the ceremony, but extremely happy 
when the food finally made an appearance!  What hams for the camera!

And these two little ladies were quite refined while eating... such little cuties!! 

One of our village grannies showed up late, but made the baby's dad pretty happy to show her off!

 I tried to get two of my friends to smile for a picture, but they got too tickled and between
the laughter and shyness, I didn't get their faces.  I still love this picture of them.

So I close with this beautiful picture of my best friend, Zainabou...the new Grandma, 
pretty happy to finally get to sit down, relax, and hold her new grandbaby, Rebeccah!