Iteso naming rituals are disappearing

People have studied – have gone to school – have attained formal global-western education, and are in their work places there. When a child is born, it is no longer the case that the father of the child will even bother to ask the elders that: “a child has been borne what name should it be given.”

When the child is still in the womb, they have scanned and seen that it is a girl or a boy, the couple already begins to give the unborn child a name. When the baby is borne the father usurps the power of the elders and he names his child without consulting with them.

There is the aspect that people have become more calculating. If you count and quantify the millet that you have to use to make the brew that those who are coming for the naming ceremony will drink, in terms of the cups of millet you would have had to buy from the market, how much money is that? A person will more likely choose to go and sell their millet than to host a baby naming ceremony.

It is the volume of greed among people that has increased. When a young wife is married, the bought food items which they put in akevera (polythene bags) are what have brought problems. The young wife wants the things in akavera to be for her ekale (household). They don’t want tata (grandma) to see those things. The things go straight to the young wife’s house.

But also me, tata, when I see things in akavera, also me my heart beats faster. I begin to imagine my daughter-in-law as greedy. This is what brings confusion in ere (homestead). When the daughter in law gets pregnant, she begins to make up all sorts of excuses – tata will kill me, she is a witch.

Right now there is a young lady who has just given birth in hospital, who refused her mother-in-law to go and be with and assist her at the hospital. Her husband is the only one who went with her to the hospital. She falsely accused her mother-in-law of being a witch. So how do you start as tata to go and give that child a name?

How do you expect the parents of the child to send the child to you if the mother has already accused you of being a witch? There is no way in which you will be given the opportunity to be part of the socialisation of that child – the child will grow on its own and be socialised differently.

Now people are borne like porcupines. Our Iteso traditions have gone into hiding. That is why you see that our children have gotten bad dressing habits and bad manners.


These words of wisdom are extracted from a transcript of a focus group discussion, conducted in November 2016, in which the participants were women, Ateso, residents of Ajesa village, in Serere District, in Teso Region, in North-Eastern Uganda.

You will also find it interesting to your read “Iteso names are vanishing”

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