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Thursday, September 18, 2014

African Baby Girl Names and Their Mystique

The continent of Africa, with its million secrets and tantalizing folklore which dates back thousands of years, is often mistaken as a single continent with a unique cultural identity. The reality, however, is significantly different. Just about every country, and in some cases, region in Africa, is deeply rooted in its own culture inspired by tradition, history and ancient practice. Let us take the Zulu tribe for instance.
Baby naming Conventions within the Zulu Community
According to Dr. Audrey Mbeje from the University of Pennsylvania, baby naming practices within the Zulu community are so unique that the tradition is worthy of study:
"Babies are named before they are born in Zulu. There is no naming ceremony in the culture, but only a ceremony called imbeleko to introduce the baby to the ancestors and to thank them and ask them to protect it. For imbeleko, a goat must be slaughtered as a sacrifice to the ancestors. A goat is always slaughtered for a feast that involves talking to the ancestors. The family elder, responsible for talking to the ancestors, will call the baby by its name when presenting it to the ancestors at the same time the goat is being slaughtered. Zulus usually carry more than one name. It can be several names given by members of the extended family. Names usually denote the family's expectations and encouragement for a baby. Some reflect the family's experiences or how they relate to others in their community, sometimes they tell about the time/how the weather was like when the person was born, and so on. Also common are names that reflect religious beliefs and political beliefs."
African Baby Girl Names reflect Insights
Some thoughts and principles also unify the continent when it is time to pick out African baby girl names. It is widely held that the name, which is finally chosen, can impact not only the future of the baby but also the baby's parents and family. This is precisely why naming the baby, although not celebrated with much pomp and ceremony as is the case in other cultures, is nevertheless serious business. Some baby names can also date the baby with respect to the time of day in which she was born, the day of the week, or the number of siblings she has. Ada, for instance, means "first female child."
Transcending Geographical Boundaries
As is the case with many cultures, thanks to the global village in which we all live today, names from one region of the world can gain quick acceptance in another partly due to its adoption by a celebrity or political leadership. The Russian name "Natasha" is popular today not only in Europe but also in North America and South Asia where many young women are named Natasha. This may be partly attributed to the immense popularity of Nastassja Kinski, the Hollywood sensation from the eighties, who has played the lead role in over 60 movies. Similarly, African baby girl names like Neema (born in prosperous circumstances), Zahra (the flower child) and Hasina (the always pleasant and smiling one) have gone totally mainstream.
Preeti Jaiswal writes about parenting, baby names and all things young and beautiful. For one of the most comprehensive baby naming portals on the Internet that has been popular among parents for more than a decade, she recommends where you will find thousands of African baby girl names and African baby boy names organized neatly with their meanings and origins.

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