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Naming Ceremony in Gambia

Names     Babies
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 evening time.
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