Saturday, April 16, 2011

Naming Ceremonies

In Gambia, when a baby is born, the child and mother stay inside a home (not necessarily their home) for one week. After that week, the baby is named at a Naming Ceremony by a Griot.  The father decides the babies name most of the time but the mother can as well.  A Griot is a performer/singer who is paid to do ceremonies and such events.  It is a tradition in this part of Africa.  I think that maybe our Gambian people are Africans first, muslims second. To become a Griot, you must be born into that tribe/family.  At the naming ceremony, people donate money and the new babys fathers sisters make food and drinks for the ceremony.

We had a small naming ceremony the other day.  This naming ceremony was considered small because nobody from out of town came.  We went to the new baby’s compound for the actual ceremony in the morning after breakfast and going to the garden.  There we sat, talked, and ate a second breakfast of coos porridge with peanut butter and baobab juice mixed in. It was delicious.  There was also sugar, rice-balls served.  They were not as delicious. In fact, I kept giving mine to a small child next to me until she started refusing.  Gambians love to eat, and they love to make sure you are eating too. I am constantly hounded for not eating enough rice.  There was also a sour-milk porridge that was even less delicious than the sugar rice balls. 

Then, the women left to prepare lunch and the men remained in the compound all day to do nothing. A goat was killed for the event so after our families lunch we went back to the naming ceremony and had a second lunch of benechin with the goat.  The lunch as pretty good, and the goat was great! After second lunch, the women went back to get dressed up then we came back to the naming ceremony compound to give the donation and drink sweet, canned milk that was heated up in a tea pot.  Also delicious, I have asked Sibou to teach me how to make it so I can make it back in Texas. There is a definite technique to it.  We sat and chatted until 7 pm and then left to keep working.  

The men left to play/watch the village football game.  Ben played in it for the first time that night. He did so well the Imam (religious leader) asked to be his coach. Ben agreed. 

For bigger naming ceremonies, we wear asoebes (matching fabric), and there is dancing into the night.  We are supposed to have a big one coming up this month.  We will take pictures of that one!


  1. The Imam asked to be Ben's coach! I love it! They are right, Kate, you should be eating more rice.

  2. First step to Ben's prosperous career as the Gambian National Team Keeper