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Multicultural Resources for High School Students  

In Our Own Voices     Unit 1 Outline

Respecting our Names

1.  Conduct and discuss get acquainted survey

2.  Demonstrate watercolor techniques and pass out materials

3.  Discuss name concepts and read/listen to resources as students paint.

Many African people believe that an individual doesn't exist without a name. With this in mind it is not surprising that a great importance is placed on giving names in traditional ceremonies throughout African communities. It is believed that as the mother gave physical life to the child, it was the role of the father to give it a name. Both the parents and grandmothers choose the names for the child.

The Yoruba naming ceremony is very traditional. Yoruba naming ceremony participators consist of the father, mother, baby, siblings, leader, a community member, ritual foods, and invited guests. In Africa, this ceremony would take place outside. In the U.S., the ceremony usually takes place in the home of the family. The guests begin arriving early in the afternoon. They bring gifts of money and other baby things. After about an hour, the ritual gathering takes place. The leader explains the foods and objects around the ritual table to the baby. As he does this he declares the symbolic meaning of each, expresses prayers for the child's well being, and passes each object for all to taste or touch. Then the baby's names are announced and the meaning behind each is explained. The night is filled with music, dancing, and eating. The festivities will last through the night to the morning.


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For questions or comments, or to report problems with links, please contact:
Ann Ramsey