By Petrus Angula Mbenzi July 2012

The Ovazemba, Caprivians and Kavango Traditional naming ceremonies- Part 3

The Ovazemba The person in charge of naming takes up a stirring stick with which the maize mush has been cooked. He removes a little piece of porridge and puts it on the end of the stick, briefly moistens the morsel in meat sauce, then presents it to the mother. The mother not being able to touch the food with both hands makes an effort to take it with her mouth. But before she can do so, another woman one of the group assistants, anticipates her and with rapid movements frustrates her attempts. The game is repeated until the mother succeeds in swallowing any portion greedily. Then the highest point of the ceremony arrives. The name-giver rubs the child with butter and raises the child to the sky and then leans to the east, then to the west and finally shouts out the name. (Estermann, 1979:25) The Caprivians Among the Caprivians two naming ceremonies are celebrated namely the naming ceremony for a new-born baby and the naming ceremony for bestowing the name of a deceased upon a living child. The naming ceremony for new-born baby is done as follows: First the mother spends a time in seclusion after the birth with some women who take care of her. Men are allowed to go and visit her to see the baby but are not allowed to touch her dishes as it is believed that they will contract diseases should they attempt to do so. After the umbilical cord has fallen off the actual naming of a baby is done. The father and the mother take turns in naming the baby but the father often plays a dominant role. When any of them suggests a name, he/she asks the other party to consult her/his parents on the quality of the name. After the approval of the name by the parents of a person who is not responsible for naming a child, the feast is organized. The maize is cooked and eaten. The grandmother approaches the child and puts the string of beads around its necks saying you are so and so. The attendants throw maize grains on the child and children are also allowed to do it. The actual naming is accompanied by dancing in honour of the child. Closely allied to the naming of a new-born baby is the bestowing of the name of the deceased upon his/her living child. This ceremony is done a year after the death of a person. The relatives of the dead come together at night when the moon is full. They discuss and decide which child should take the name of its parent which is usually the eldest child. They hold discussions while the children are asleep and they whisper when they d...

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