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General News of Friday, 26 January 2018

Source: dailyheritage.com.gh

Ghanaians angry over ban on names by Births and Deaths Registry

The decision by the Births and Deaths Registry to ban certain prefixes and suffixes deemed as titles and thus prevented from being registered as part of names on birth certificates has received a huge backlash from discerning Ghanaians.

New and social media were yesterday awashed with harsh words, some of which are unprintable, against the Births and Deaths Registry and the Registrar, Mr John Agbeko, for spearheading what many described as a ‘bad policy’ which seeks to force Ghanaians to name their children according to the dictates of the Registry.

Reacting to the policy, seasoned radio and television presenters and panellists such as Prof. Kofi Agyekum, popularly known as Opanin Agyekum, of the University of Ghana, criticised the Registry and expressed wonder as to why the outfit should be the one to determine how Ghanaians name their children.

Dr Nana Anima Wiafe-Akenten, a holder of PhD in Twi and lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, in an interview yesterday, said Ghanaian names such as Nana, Nii and Togbe when attached to other names command respect for the bearers and also put a certain traditional obligation on them to show themselves responsible in the communities in which they live.

She said such local names have strong effect on their bearers due to the meaning and reason behind the names.

“The child is named after an elderly person who happens to be a chief or another prominent person who lived an exemplary life that they want that child to emulate or follow so they add Nana, Nii, Togbe or Maame to be part of the name for easy identification of the bearer or reference to the one the child was named after.

“I was named after my grandmother, Nana Anima Wiafe-Akenten. That is her name so you can’t take out the Nana,” she noted.

For his part, Mr Kwame Jantuah, a legal practitioner, said “we have been screaming for local content about our businesses and things we have been doing, but the key to local content is our local names. So if we’re going to give our children foreign names, where is our ethnicity?” he quipped.

Background

While trying to explain the ban on so-called title names in an exclusive interview with the DAILY HERITAGE on Wednesday, Mr Agbeko said Ghanaian names such as ‘Nana, Nii, Naa, and Togbe are mostly used as stool names and titles for leaders in the traditional setup.

According to him, parents choose these names (titles) to honour relatives who have played vital roles in their lives and do not want their names to be missing from the family.

Mr Agbeko suggested that such titles that the registry does not accept as part of names should only be used in the house and the community and not to add them to names for birth registration.

“If we allow ourselves as a nation to give names the way we want because it is us who have got the child and will want to name the child the way we want, there will come a time that we will have wonderful names in Ghana. So it is just a control measure to make sure that there are moderating factors on us as citizens to direct how our naming should go.

“Nobody is against a local name. The only difference is that if you come to me and say that I have a baby and I want to name this baby by giving a name like an example from where I come from, you have Dzigbordi which is Patience and also using Mabel and you want to make Dzigbordi the first name, by our operations we tell you this cannot occupy the first name but Dzigbordi can be the middle name to have Mabel Dzigbordi Agbeko,” he explained.

He further explained that “if you still want the Dzigbordi, then you can leave the Mabel and we will use the Dzigbordi for you as a first name but because we are English-speaking people, if you take Mabel and Dzigbordi together I don’t know how it will look on paper if we do Dzigbordi Mabel Agbeko

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