The Naming Ceremony:
During pregnancy it is considered bad luck to start
buying things for your baby before it is born let alone
talk about your hopes and dreams for its future. In
Gambian society, among Muslims, the naming ceremony
takes place on the 8th day after the birth of the child
and is known as Ngente.
The special occasion is normally held just outside the
house in one's yard where the family would have erected
chairs and fixed a large sunshade for guest. The new
mother dresses in her finest clothes and lots of food
bundles with mints, cake, bread and the like are prepared
for friends and family.
The actual occasion is usually held around 10 am though
among Serahules this can be shortly after dawn prayers.
After all have gathered an imam (spiritual leader) or
other respected elder will use a razor blade to cut
a lock of hair from the baby's head, pour a little water
onto its head and recite some Koranic verses as well
as repeating the name of the baby in its ear. After
this the name is proclaimed out loud to all present
by the family's griot.
The name chosen is by custom kept secret by the father
until the actual occasion. If the father is out of the
country then he may inform a family elder the day before
of which name he has chosen for his child. Kola (Cola)
nuts are distributed and a cow, sheep, goat or chicken
is sacrificially slaughtered to be served up later to
guests and lunch. The festivities are sometimes attended
by a Kankuran and last throughout the day and into the