BOOK REVIEW: THE OUTDOORING DEDICATION AND NAMING OF AN AFRICAN CHILD: A CEREMONY OF THE GADANGME PEOPLE OF SOUTHEASTERN GHANA – Ganyobi Kpojiemͻ Vol 1 by Ernest H.C. Tetteh (London: Ophelia Vanderpuye On-line Publishing, 2016).
By Gyau Kumi Adu (email@example.com/ https://joewykay.wordpress.com/)
Reflections on the Book
The primal purpose of this book is to explain three interwoven cultural practices of the Gadangmes: The outdooring, dedication, and naming ceremony of Gas. Although there are writings on Ga naming ceremonies, there is no book on the Ga culture that extensively deals specifically with the depth of Ga names this way the book does. The author’s exegesis and mastery of Ga names is incredible. In fact, after reading the book I realized that if you take away a person’s indigenous name, you take away a person’s distinct cultural identity and heritage. Our names partly define us. Can Ghana be said to be Ghana after all the local names have been erased? Am I still a Ghanaian when I have a totally Western name? Can my lineage be traced if I adopt a completely Western name? Can I be an indigenous Ga and still be a Christian? These were some of the lingering thoughts on my mind after I finished reading this classic book.
The outdooring ceremony is principally one in which “a baby is brought outside for the first time (usually occurring eight days after birth).” In the words of the writer, the “beautiful ceremony [is] to symbolically introduce a new-born baby to God… as well as to the mysteries of the seen and the unseen world…” E.A Ammah, looking at its Ga equivalent word, kpojiemͻ, notes the following: It ‘is made up of three words. “Kpo” is “yard”, “dzie” is from ‘dze’ “come out” or “appear”, and “mͻ” is person… [Therefore it] means to “take or bring the child out into a yard.” It is at this outdooring ceremony that the baby is dedicated and given a name (family identity). Hence, a child is not recognized as part of the family without the ceremony.