Friday, March 9, 2012

The Journey home to Africa - Naming Day 7 (pt 2) Quebo Guinea Bissau

Wednesday 2/22
Day 7 (pt 2)

I get a new Name!!
My renaming ceremony
Immediately following the Quebo village celebration I was rushed over to participate in my renaming ceremony.
No time to put on my new outfit - a skirt was quickly wrapped around me so that I could meet the leaders.

As excited as I was about the festivities earlier in the day, I can not begin to describe my feelings about getting a new African name. And, in my own ceremony too. WOW I guess this is my 15 minutes of fame!

What is renaming? 
For those of you who don't know what that means, I'll try to explain.
"Slaves, straight from Africa, were stripped of their names. Some were renamed on the ship as they were transported to the United States. There were several trends used in naming slaves. But however African slaves were named; it was always an act of taking away their identity and forcing a new one upon them. Over time, particularly since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, many African Americans began a renaming process and assumed authentic African and/or created names that signaled pride in their African cultural heritage."

“African names are gorgeous, charming and melodic even to the English speaking ear. They also have phenomenal meanings and unique histories. In Africa the birth of a child is an event of great exultation and importance. So great significance is attached to the naming of the child. The hopes of the ancestors, the status of the family, current occurrences and celestial events are use in naming the child. It is believed that the name chosen will exert an influence for better or for worse on the life of the child. Also you as an adult can choose a name that truly signifies you as a person." information resource

The actual naming ceremony started at 8:00am and I was a "bit late", arriving at around 4:00pm but I was overjoyed at the turnout of the people who were still there to participate in my ceremony.

Below is a copy of the announcement which was handed out, it printed in English on one side and Portuguese on the other. Take a minute to read it. That will help you to understand the significance of my new name. (Pretty impresssive I might add)

The naming portion of the ceremony was relatively short so I will post a series of pictures which should give you a pretty good idea of what took place.

Updated info just sent my Rashida:  "pounding grain" - Imam has his hand extended - calling Nenegale into the family with my new  son by my side - behind him to the right is Fatata (Fatamata - my new full blood sister) Look at the smiles the happiness on every face! Whenever there is a naming ceremony grain is brought to pound - it is the first act of the naming ceremony (after the animal has been sacrificed)
During the ceremony my name: Nenegale Djalo  was "bequethed" to me - by the Head Imam of all of Quebo; Usmani Seidi - He stated that from that day forth I would have the name, Nenegale Djalo, the daughter of Alhaji Aruno Rachid Djalo!
Fatamata Djalo - only living sister (both parents) of Nenegale

an imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question. In smaller communities, an imam could also be the community leader.
the Imam is the man in the shawl and white hat and has on the shawl (it has a name I don't know) but it denotes he's been to Mecca!
He is known to be VERY pious - and VERY humane
I was very grateful and thankful that I was chosen to receive the name Nenegale (pronounced  neh - neh - gal - lay) which means "mother of the house" and I was even more overjoyed to become a member of the Djalo (pronounced jalo) family.
I'm told that my naming is not taken lightly - by anyone in Quebo!

I was showered me with gifts
 Call me Nenegale! 
What an honor. I am so deeply moved. 

 more pics from the ceremony 


Anonymous said...

The joy of everyone - the genteelness in even approaching/touching Nenegale - the honored one - so that even the welcome was led by the titular family head. He RARELY (word not used easily) comes outside to greet anyone; and if then remains up while the person goes to him. In this UNIQUE instance, he came down, extended family greetings and his hand (others were in gleeful awe and put great significance to this act) giving the entire ceremony his blessing. He delegated his son to attend to Nenegale (and he did, acting as translator, escort/guard and loving son - in Fula culture the sons/daughters of sisters, brothers and closes aunts/uncles are also your sons)

devon said...

It was a truly special day but I didn't know what was happening until now, so I really feel extra special!

STIR.ORG said...

The Emam of Quebo in the picture, Alhaj Ussumane Seidi, AKA Dr. Ussumane Seidi, was the head medical doctor in Quebo between the early 1980s and late 90s. He is my grandpa or grand uncle as we'd say in the US(my father's uncle. Nenegalle is also my mom's name. Beautiful memories. I love the story of your renaming :-)
THank you for sharing.

devon said...

Thank you, I did not know that. It was truly a special day and an honor to be in the home of your grand uncle and to be given such a special name. Thank you for writing me.