How Dagomba People in Ghana Celebrate a Birth of a New Baby
During my stay with Dagomba family in Tamale, I was lucky to partake in a childbirth celebration. Like elsewhere in the world, a birth is one of the most important events for the family. It. For Dagomba people it also means a social event for the community, because it is blessed with a new community member and therefore community is perpetuated and strengthened.
Dagomba Birth and Naming Ceremony in Ghana
When baby is born, Dagomba birth and naming ceremony preparations for ceremony start. The lady from my family, who is an auntie of the new-born baby, went to the »new-born’s« place every day to help with preparations.
The seventh day the celebration finally occurs. Goat is slaughtered as a token of appreciation for the ancestors who are responsible for human fertility. The feast is ready. Wider part of family is invited, from man and woman’s lineage.
During celebration, men and women keep separated. Men are sitting under a mango tree out of compound, meanwhile women and kids are in the house and around it, busy with cooking, cleaning, serving food to men, chatting etc. It is also a good opportunity for vendors to come to the compound and sell clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, beverages etc.
Any new-born Dagomba is referred to as sana/saando “male stranger”, if a male, or saanpaga “female stranger” if a female. The first week, only closer family visits new-born, just to protect him from exposure to illness.
On the seventh day, when it is certain that baby he is healthy and will live on, the birth and naming ceremony occurs. Only after naming ceremony, the child officially starts to exist – when he has been named as part of his birth rite of passage – the naming ceremony.
So this is the day, when he can be officially presented to the public. The baby stays with his mother in her room, dressed in white clothes. Everyone who comes to see him, lends moral and financial support to the mother and is therefore invited to stay and partake of everything offered.
The initial naming of a child that occurs on that day, can be regarded as a public announcement of the child’s birthright as a member of a recognised group. The naming ceremony is performed under the supervision of the father in consultation with the head of household.
Child’s name is proudly written on the wall at the outer side of the compound so it can be visible to everyone. It is written in Arabic and Latin. Not only among Dagomba people in Ghana, but also among other ethnic groups in Ghana, a child may be named after the day of the week or for the time of day at which he was born, or when he is born on a special day, it is then usually named for that day.