The Dagomba people in the northern region of Ghana, have one of the unique ways of naming their children. Dagbon names or Dagbani names are wide and varied.
This is because the Dagombas have varied names which depend on the circumstances of the child’s birth
Among the Dagbon people, when a child is born, the baby is considered a stranger ( Sana) until he or she is outdoor and given a name.
The baby is therefore known as “Saan-doo” for a male child and ” Saan-paɣa” for a female child. The child is addressed by this name until he or she is properly outdoored.
Dagbon Names : Naming Ceremony Among Dagombas
The naming of a child by Dagombas in Northern Ghana usually happens on the 8th day after birth. By this time, the umbilical cord of the child should have fallen off. This is what is known as “Nyuɣu lubu”.
When the umbilical cord falls, the child’s hair is then shaved and given a name.
Before the ceremonial day, the family head (Daŋ-kpema) makes sacrifices to their ancestors, thanking them for the woman’s safe delivery. He then goes to consult a soothsayer.
This consultation is done in order to find out the purpose of the baby’s visit and also to identify the baby child.
This is important because the Dagbamba people have a strong belief in reincarnation. It is possible that one of their ancestors has decided to come back, just to see how the family is keeping together after their demise.
If the soothsayer affirms that the baby is taken after an earlier ancestor, the family head is obliged to name the child after that ancestor.
However, if the child is just a new member, who wishes to join their family, a befitting name is sought and given to the baby child.
Read More : The advent of the lunsi in Dagbon State
Dagbon Names : Naming Ceremony In Dagbon
A day before the naming ceremony, certain items are brought forth in a pan. These items form an important part of the ceremony, as they symbolize the wishes of the family for the newborn baby. Each ingredient has a symbolic meaning. These items include:
* kariwana ( maize) – symbolizes food. A wish that the newborn baby may never lack food in his stay on earth.
* Kanwa (Saltpeter) – A symbol for medicine. With the wish that the newborn baby never develops any chronic ailment.
* Liɣiri (Money)- A symbol for wealth. With the wish that the child grows up to be a wealthy person, who never lacks.
* Gumdi (cotton)- cotton is a symbol of clothing. The wish for the baby child is that he never walks on earth naked. He or she should have enough to clothe himself and others under him.
Dagbon names : Shaving of the baby’s hair :
In Dagbon tradition, the first hair of a child is seen as an impurity ” Zabi biɛri”. It is believed that the child is from a spiritual world, and the hair the child carries from the spiritual world must be done away with.
This helps to disassociate the baby from his ties with his fellow spiritual children yet unborn.
This custom is done by a man called ” wanzam “. The Wanzam is responsible for the shaving of hair and circumcision of babies. He also does what is known as
” Kafu kpabu” ; a traditional way of getting rid of blood clots in an injured person. The head of the wanzam is called Mba Gunu.
A day to the naming ceremony, the family head sends cola to the Wanzam, informing him of the naming ceremony. This gesture serves as an official invitation of the wazam to come and shave the newborn baby and also perform circumcision; in the case of a male child.
After the naming ceremony, the newly born baby has to undergo proper bathing, in order to prevent the child from body odour and also to strengthen the bones of the baby. This is done by traditional mid-wife known as ” Paɣadɔɣisotɔɣinda”.
The paɣidɔɣisotɔɣinda is mostly an aged woman, who has enough experience at delivering a baby and bathing them when the baby is still fragile.
The Different Categories of Dagbon Names
There’s a popular adage in Dagbon, which goes that ” Din biɛ mini din viɛli zuɣu ka sokam mali o yuli”
to wit, it is because of bad and good that everyone has a name. This implies that one man’s deeds shouldn’t be associated with someone else.
For this reason, among the Dagomba people, a name holds a significant aspect of an individual’s personality. A person’s name can be used to identify the person’s family lineage.
Due diligence is therefore considered when naming children in Dagbon.
In giving a child a name, the Dagomba man takes into consideration, the circumstance, the day, time of the year, etc. in which the child was born. The name of a child should therefore have a link to the child’s birth.
Some of the common issues which Dagbombas use to name their children include :
Dagbani Names based on the day of birth – Dabisa Yuya
Among the Dagombas, Children are named based on the particular day they are born.
These names are more common to the female child than the male child.
These names include:
|Days of the week in English||Dabisa (Days of The week in Dagbani)||Dabisa Yuya (Corresponding Dagbani day name)|
|Tuesday||Atalaata||Zilaata ( female)|
Azima or Azim paɣa (female)
|Saturday||Asibiri||Sibi-doo ( male)
Sibi-paɣa ( female
|Sunday||Alahari||Lahari ( Female)
Dagbani Names based on month of birth – Chira Yuya
The Dagombas have 12 months in a year. Out of these, only two of these months are named after their children.
They are Damba and Chimsi
These are the only names children bear in Dagbon, which are names of the 3rd and 12th months respectively. Apart from these two names, no month is used to name their children.
However, children born on the day of the Buɣim festival (fire festival), are giving the name Asuro.
Dagbani Proverbial names – ŋaha yuya
The most common dagbon names you’ll find in Dagbon are proverbial names.
People give these names to their children as a way of sending indirect messages to the public or to individuals.
Some of these names are also good wishes, which the couple envisage the newborn baby will bring to their family, while others are messages intended to mock their enemies.
In other instances too, these proverbial names may be chosen based on the difficulty the mother faced when she was pregnant.
Depending on what the meaning and purpose of a proverbial name are, it may either bring the newborn baby more lovers or more enemies.
Below are a list is some Dagomba proverbial names and their meaning:
- Anzansi – courage /perseverance.
- Balima – persuasion.
- Bangahim – Unique / distinguished
- Baŋbebu ( Bangbebu) – Live cautiously.
- Beninya – Live to witness.
- Bɛneeti – They have awakened us
- Bɛgaŋ – Not discriminatory
- Bonsuduŋ – Why the hatred?
- Chalipang – Forgive
- Dipantiche – It will stop one day
- Daliri – Good fortune
- Dangana – Consolation
- Deeshini – persevere / endure in silence
- Faako – Relieve
- Jilima – Respect
- Kasi – Tidy
- Kataali – Innocent
- Manfooya – I have kept silent
- Mbaŋba ( M-bang-ba) – I have found them out
- Mandeeya – I have accepted
- Malititi – Resolve for us / make things good for us.
- M-bo – Well done
- Mburidiba – My innocence has caused their destruction.
- Mpanko – I’m not alone
- Naani – Trust
- Nasara – Victory
- Neesim – Enlightenment / brightness
- Nirilim – kindness / goodness
- N-nyeyem – I have become sensible
- Ngaŋ-ŋuni – I discrimate against no one
- puumaaya – The pain is gone
- Shini-kadoliba – follow them in silence
- Suhuyini – Faithfulness
- Saha – Good luck
- Suglo – patience
- Tiyumba – Lets love them
- Tiyuuniba – We’re watching them.
- Tuŋteeya ( Tungteeya)- the family has grown
- Tahama – Hopeful
- Tifɔmi – We’re silent
- Timtooni – progress
- Tipaɣiya( Tipagya) – We are grateful
- Viɛlim ( vielim) – Beauty
- Vikuba – they’ve died of shame
- vinikuba – They’ll die of shame
- Yumzaa – Love all
- Ʒisuŋ – Good life
- Zaa-nyaya – Everyone has seen
- Zoosim – greatness
Dagbon Names relating to God – Naawuni Yuya:
Other common Dagbani names among the Dagbamba tribe are names that have an association with God.
Such Dagomba names are mostly given to children by way of thanking God for the newborn baby.
Some of these dagbabi names are also used as means of praying, seeking God’s favor in the life of the couple and family.
Some of these names include ;
- Chentiwuni – Leave in God’s hands
- Salpawuni – Man is no God
- Wunpini – God’s gift
- Wunimmi – Only God knows
- Wunnam – God’s might
- Wunniche – God’s will
- Wuntia – Faith in God
- Wunibee – God exists
- Wunideeya – God has accepted
- Wuniko – Only God
- Wunizaligu – God’s plan
- wunzooya – God is great
- Wunbiyɛli – It is not ordained by God
- Wunidabili – A servant of God
- Wunintira – God is the giver
- Anamzooya – You are a mighty God
Dagbon Names depending on the situation or time of the child’s birth – Saha Yuya
- Asuro – A child born on the day of the Buɣim festival.
- Dasana – when a child is born in the market.
- Dasoli – A child born on the way to the market.
- Dayuuni – A child who is a year in the mother’s womb before birth. ( 12months)
- Gariyuuni – A babe who spends more than a year in the mother’s womb.
- Kayeba – A child born after the death of all grandfathers.
- Kachaɣu(Kachagu) – A child born during the season of harvesting Guinea corn
- Napari – When a child is born after twins.
- Niendoo/ nienpaga – Born on a bright day ( during the day)
- Saa – Rain ( when a child is born when its raining )
- Sawalli – A child born during a light rain cloud
- Suɣuri( Sugri) – The first child to be born when a person becomes a Chief.
- Siɣili( Sigli) – A child born during the early rains of the wet season
- Tisua – A child born in the middle of the night
- Ʒiba – when a child is born after the death of his father.
- Zama – A child born on a day of festivity ( festival)
- Ziŋnaa – A chief dies and his wife gives birth after his death. The baby can be named Ziŋ-Naa
Dagomba Names of deities -Buɣ’ yuya ( Bug yuya) :
Before the advent of the Islamic religion, the Dagomba people had a strong belief in deities and principalities. Every household kept a family deity, known as ” tiya”, while several community deities spread across the land.
Even today, most Dagbon traditional areas still hold great values in these deities and honor them.
Chiefs and commoners alike, visited these community deities to seek aid for themselves, their families, and their communities.
There are instances when a couple, who are unable to have children, will visit these deities to appease them and seek a child.
When the wish of the couple is granted and the baby is born, they give the name of the said deity to the child.
Some common deity dagomba names which you’ll find in Dagbon society include :
- Buɣu’jaa (Bugu jaa)
- Buɣili (Bugu doo/Bugu paga)
- Buɣu saɣiri ( Bugu Sagiri)
- Nasaɣiri ( Nasagri)
- Tia ( Tidoo, Tipaga)
- Tɔŋ (Tong doo, Tong paga)
Dagomba Names of reincarnated children- Dɔɣirikpihiŋ yuya ( Dogri kpihing yuya)
As posited earlier, the Dagbamba people have a very strong belief in the concept of reincarnation. They call it ” Dɔɣirikpihim” ( Dogri-kpihim).
These are kids, who are believed to deliberately torment their mother by dying and getting born again.
Such babies, if identified, are “sold” ( A rite performed and not sold as in permanently) to a person from another tribe.
The baby is then given the name of the said tribe. The belief is that, giving the baby the name of a different tribe will let the baby stay alive.
Some of these common Dagbani names include :
- Modoo/Mopaɣa ( mopaga)
- Gurindoo/Gurinpaɣa ( Gurinpaga)
- ŋmampiri doo
- Zabaɣa doo/ Zabaɣa paɣa
- Fulani doo / Fulan paɣa
- Kusa doo /Kusa paɣa
Dagbani Names of Twins – Jahi yuya
Twins are considered sacred beings among the Dagbon people. They are believed to possess certain spirits, which can cause one a blessing or a curse. Because of these, twins are treated with care and sometimes appeased in certain families.
Per Dagbon tradition, when twins are born, the first one to be born is considered the youngest, and the one born later, the elder one. It is believed that the younger was sent by the elder one to see how the world is before he follows suit.
Common Dagbon names given to twins in Dagbon are:
- Dawuni – Danaa ( All males)
- Pagwuni – Pagnaa – ( all females)
- Dawuni ( male) – Pagnaa ( female)
- Danaa ( male ) – Pagwuni ( female)
Danaa and Pagnaa are considered the elders while Dawuni and Pagwuni are the younger ones.
Aboriginal Dagbon Names – Dagbon kura yuya
With the advent of foreign cultures in Dagbon ; especially the Islamic religion, the majority of the Dagomba people now bear names like Adam, Haruna, Inusah, Alhassan, Ali, Zeinab, Hasana, Jamila, etc.
Some of these names have been doctored because of the problem with pronunciation, while others come with appellations.
Some common Dagbon names with their appellations- Yuya mini ŋa Salima:
- Alaasani ( Alhassan) – karikari Baako
- Ablai ( Abdullai) – Tooka
- Fusheni ( Hussein) – Juuna
- Mahamaru ( Mohammed) – Zanjina/ Mankaanu
- Yakubu – Gubili
- Ʒenabu ( Zeinab) – Gadabisi
- Rahama – Dahama lana
- Azima – kaɣali piɛɣu ku pili ŋmani
- Sulemana – Bindawudu
- Adamu – Katakule
- Awaabu ( Hawa) – Ʒini duu ka nya ŋmariga
- Laabi – Badawiya
- Mariama( Mariam) – Yɛmbu
- Meemunatu – Baamunu
- Abubakari – Gariba
- Dawuda – Che sua
- Imoro – Guru
- Sayibu – Zunzɔŋ
- Musah – Kalaamulahi
200+ List of Dagbani Names and Their Meanings
|Name In Dagbanli||Gender||Group||Meaning|
|Banbangtaba||those who know each other|
|Beninye||stay and witness|
|Bigaŋ||Ŋaha Yuya||Not discriminated|
|Bineti||they have enlightened us|
|Bonnidima / Dondirima||Ŋaha Yuya|
|Jenda||It means Outstanding or exceptional when used as a verb, but when used as a noun it means responsibility|
|Njalwuni||Leaning on God|