Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ethiopian names

I found this website that explains a little about the importance of names in Ethiopia. It's an Australian adoption site. I thought this was interesting...

"Heritage is very important and traditionally a child grows up to know at least 7 generations of his / her ancestors. For example a child named Abraham Alemayehu Zerihun carries 3 generations of names, his own (Abraham), his father's (Alemayehu) and his grandfather's (Zerihun).

Why are children named like this?

One reason is that many people have the same first name so the father's name identifies them like the English "Robert - son" = Robertson.

The grandfather's name adds to this and also shows heritage which is important in determining status - the more names you know the higher your status in the community.

Another reason for naming children this way is that when Ethiopian men plan to marry, traditionally they send a delegation of 6 elders to the girl's family to negotiate the marriage. This negotiation includes determining if the bride and groom are related. Both families must provide the male lines of both sets of parents back 7 generations. Therefore, it is the names that are handed down through the generations that are the evidence of their family line."

Imagine having 6 elders come to your house to negotiate a marriage? Maybe there would be fewer divorces if there was more negotiations?