CHILD NAMING

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The child naming in Turkana community is ceremonial since the child is regarded as a gift to the family. Family members wait anxiously for the new born as a new family member who will be celebrated. The first day of child birth, the Mother will stay in her hut covered with cows hide and fire lit using the Traditional fire stick [Ngipip].

According to the turkana traditional naming system, a new born is given two names where the First name given is based on the natural occurrence during that particular time when the child is born e.g season, locality or place of birth. Every name in the Turkana traditions has a meaning describing the event surrounding the child birth.

The second Name, is from someone who had booked or requested earlier to be named after where in most cases the people requesting to be named after are usually many where the new born is at liberty to choose. During this process, the child is called a series of names until he/she suckles the Mother at the mentioning of the particular name as it is believed that the child has is at peace with the name given. The name has to be from a relative or family close friends or friends. In some cases, the name can also be from a celebrity or a hero. For it is believed that the characters of the namesake will be reflected on the child as he/she grows.

Of the two names, the first name usually remains popular and only fades away on adulthood as the names of the children replaces the name of the parent. For instance, If a child is named after Apua, when she gives birth to a child named Ekitela then her name(Apua) loses popularity among the community members as she earns the status of parenthood and becomes “Ata “Ekitela, which means Ekitela’s mother or “Apakeng” Ekitela referring to Ekitela’s father. The parenthood name is regarded as a status quo among the kinsmen than the First name or the second one at old Age. The person named after usually gifts the namesake in form of a Livestock to confirm “Akirop” the relationship between the two sharing the same name to be two in One.

However, the modern Turkana community has assimilated into the modern ways of naming where they have learnt to name children after the days of the week such as, Sunday or Monday and the religious names commonly used in Towns. On the contrary the active Pastoralists still maintain the Traditional naming system discussed.

The Turkana people commonly name their Masculine with prefix “Lo” and “E” while Feminine with “Na” and “A” with exception to other names like Maraka, Lochilia, Moru, Munyes, Nakeor. These names exempted from the prefixes, are commonly unisexual. However, these Traditional names have taken another twist by forming synonyms that differentiate between a feminine and a masculine. For instance, the original names like, Ekai for male and Akai for Feminine refer to a child born in the Hut/House. This has however been modified to “Ikai” where the vowel “E” has been replaced by “I” which diminishes the personality. This has been applied to all the names in the modern Turkana community absorbing the original system which calls to attention to ensure that these diminishing names are to be repossessed and names given in accordance to the traditional naming procedure.

To conclude, it is imperative to say that the authenticity of the Turkana Culture gives the person the Dignity and identity in a given gathering yet the naming of the children has been assimilated and compromised by the modern Community for self-interest and selfish ends. As I had said earlier, the child Naming is ceremonial which is celebrated during “Edea” that involves slaughtering of the Ram for the midwives who assisted the mother during the child bearing period as other ceremonies follow as the child grows.

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