Eleme Child Naming Culture: ‘Edee’ (Namesake)
By Benjamin Ngongwia
Culture is transient but the truth remains that names are essential parts and identity of every culture. Names have enormous importance both to the people who receive them and those that give them.
Generally, in cultures with a keen sense of ancestry like Eleme, children get their names from totems and family trees of their parents. Giving of a name or naming ceremony is an event of major importance.
The typical Eleme man neither looks up names on the internet nor in the dictionaries unlike today. He names his child or children almost immediately after delivery.
In Eleme, children are named after their grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties (relatives) or friends who helped them woo their wives or those who played significant roles in their lives or events.
Virtually, every child in Eleme has an Edee (Namesake). My dad for instance, has 21 children and everyone of us has Edee. Having Edee used to be a privilege and was held in high esteem in the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000. Usually in Eleme, when you are named after someone, your Edee comes to accept you and after that your Edee is literarily your second dad and his home your second home. On Christmas days, the best place to celebrate is in the home of your Edee!
In fact, it is because of this culture of Edee that some people argue that the typical Eleme names like Mbombo, Ayira, Olai, Ogosu, Wai, Jiala, etc, has no meaning. Whether it is true or not, I personally believe that it is sheer laziness on the part of our elders not to educate the younger ones that seem to validate this argument. It is also our collective failure to allow our beautiful culture erode.
As you read through this piece, if you have Edee mention his or her name and make him or her feel special. Our Culture must be PRESERVED, it is our identity!