Igbo culture is a very rich culture, they have various ceremonies, events et al among is ceremony of naming a child.

This is one event that comes up almost immediately after the birth of a child. The naming ceremony of a child is often referred to as ‘ikuputanwa or igu nwa’ aha, and it marks the formal presentation of the child to his people who comprise of his kinsmen, family, friends, well-wishers and the entire community at large.

The event is done to fulfill the social-religious obligations that are believed to become activated when a child is born, as well as to thank God for the safe delivery of the child and to ask him to guide the child as he embarks on a journey through the earth. The naming ceremony in Igbo land occurs on either the 7th or 12th day after a child is born depending on the locality. It is pertinent to note that the Igbo calendar is quite different from the Standard English calendar. A week in Igbo land is made up of four days; eke, oye, afor and nwko. This implies that a child is named after 2 to 3 Igbo weeks.

When a child is born in Igbo culture, most women who went there would rub nzu (white powder on their necks as a mark of purity of heart, goodwill and welcome to the new baby. This practice is still in place in Isinweke.

There is no doubt that there are varieties of songs depending on the part of Igboland. The fact remains, however, that Ndigbo welcome a new baby into the world with a joyous song. As soon as the news of a safe delivery of a baby is broken, the women around would assemble and start singing song.

Paternal grandparents officiate Igbo ceremonies. The ceremony begins with ancestor recognition and divination, followed by the name giving and planting of a live plant to represent life and survival. Next, a participant pours a wine libation to share the child’s name with the ancestors. After the usual breaking of kola nuts and prayers, the ceremony, which traditionally lasts an entire day, ends with a family procession.

The Igbo tend to name based on observation, birthmarks, or some other remarkable characteristic—for example, Ogbonna (“image of his father”). Igbo also commonly name children for the market day on which they were born—Nweke, Adafo, or Okorie. Of the names the Igbo give to a child, the father or a family elder gives the child the name the community will use most often.

In traditional Igbo life, there is a lot in a name. The name is more than just a tag or a convenient badge of identity.  Igbo names always bear a message, a meaning, a history, a record or a prayer. This is also to say that they embody a rich mine of information on the people’s reflection and considered comment on life and reality. They provide a window into the Igbo world of values as well as their peculiar conceptual apparatus for dealing with life. Their range of application spans the whole of life itself.

One of the earliest written comments on the peculiarity and deep philosophical import of Igbo names was made by the British colonial officer, Major Arthur Glynn Leonards in his “The Lower Niger and its Tribes”. He notes that:

In nothing, not even in their customs, can we grasp the natural and ancestral conception so plainly as in these names which invoke, promise, threaten, praise, revile, satirize and sympathize, that in fact express and demonstrate all that is human, that is, all that is best and worst in them.

In this society name-giving is a significant ceremony performed on the occasion of circumcision or when the mother officially ends the post-natal period of enclosure (omugwo). The privilege of name-giving is generally reserved to the parents and grandparents whom it gives an opportunity to express the importance of the child in their lives or in general, to make a significant statement on their life experience, and to express deep-felt wishes or their future hopes and expectations for the child.




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