Whenever a new baby is born there is a naming ceremony 7 days afterward. It is a big celebration for families and everyone is invited to bring gifts and just share the joy of a new addition to the family. Since we are considered new additions to the family a Naming Ceremony was held for the Peace Corps trainees.
In The Gambia everyone is named after some…literally. Your name-sake is called your Tooma and anyone with your name is also called your Tooma
During the ceremony the baby’s head is shaved because the hair from before birth is considered “unclean” and its also supposed to mark a new beginning. Needless to say our heads were symbolically shaved.
Here is the speech given by Sekuba (a Peace Corps Language & Cultural Facilitator) after we all received our names
**NOTE** Our families loaned those outfits to us for the day. I’ve not seen that dress since.
Casey, one of the volunteers in my training village with me had a very special honor. His host father, Mussa, chose to name his newborn daughter after him. This may not seem like much but Casey’s host dad stepped way out of the box of tradition and took a big social risk naming his daughter after someone of the opposite sex and giving her a non-traditional name. Here is a video of a naming ceremony for baby Casey.